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Full text of "The silence of Colonel Bramble. Translated from the French by Thurfrida Wake. Verses translated by Wilfrid Jackson"

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Copyright, 1920, 



IN its original French " Les Silences du 
Colonel Bramble " has already run through 
seventeen editions, and a second edition has 
been called for in English within a very short 
time of publication. The success of the book 
has naturally brought many inquiries as to 
who is this brilliant young author who has thus 
suddenly leaped into fame. In answer to in- 
quiries, M. "Andre Maurois " writes: 

" My family comes from Alsace. My 
grandfather had a factory at Strasburg, but 
the war of 1870 compelled him to leave Alsace 
in order to escape becoming German. He 
brought his workmen with him, and set up his 
factory at Elbeuf in Normandy, and was 
awarded the Legion of Honour for having 
thus saved a French industry. 


viii Biographical Introduction 

" I was born in Normandy in 1885. In 
1902 I passed my licence es lettres with hon- 
ours equivalent to your ' First ' at Oxford. 
In 1903 I received the price d'honneur for Phi- 
losophy at the competitive examinations open 
to all the Lycees of France for this there is 
no English equivalent. 

" I wished to write, but I was needed at the 
factory as my father was no longer young, so 
I gave up my ambitions and spent eight years 
in business. During this period I married 
Mile, de Sienkievicz, a daughter of Count C. 
de Sienkievicz. 

" Then came the war, and I was appointed 
interpreter with the IXth (Scotch) Division. 
I was with them at Loos and Ypres, and was 
given the D. C. M. Finally I was promoted 
to the rank of lieutenant and liaison officer. 
I had, however, been ill, and was sent to H.Q. 
Lines of Communication at Abbeville, where 
I remained until the end of the war. 

" Military life gave me sufficient leisure to 
enable me to take up again my original tastes, 

jeJiographical Introduction ix 

and thus, while I was with the Scotch Division, 
6 Bramble ' was written. Then at Abbeville I 
wrote another book, called c Ni Ange, ni Bete,' 
which has recently appeared in France. I 
am now engaged on another book." 




/TMIE Highland Brigade was holding its 
regimental boxing match in a fine old 
Flemish barn in the neighbourhood of 
Poperinghe. At the end of the evening the 
general got on to a chair and, in a clear, audi- 
ble voice, said: 

" Gentlemen, we have to-day seen some ex- 
cellent fighting, from which I think we may 
learn some useful lessons for the more impor- 
tant contest that we shall shortly resume; we 
must keep our heads, we must keep our eyes 
open, we must hit seldom but hit hard, and 
>ve must fight to a finish." 

Three cheers made the old barn shake. 
The motors purred at the door. Colonel 
Bramble, Major Parker and the French inter- 
preter, Aurelle, went on foot to their billets 
among the hops and beetroot fields. 


!I4 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

' We are a curious nation," said Major 
Parker. ' To interest a Frenchman in a box- 
ing match you must tell him that his national 
honour is at stake. To interest an English- 
man in a war you need only suggest that it 
is a kind of a boxing match. Tell us that the 
Hun is a barbarian, we agree politely, but tell 
us that he is a bad sportsman and you rouse 
the British Empire." 

" It is the Hun's fault," said the colonel 
sadly, " that war is no longer a gentleman's 

" We never imagined," continued the ma- 
jor, " that such cads existed. Bombing open 
towns is nearly as unpardonable as fishing for 
trout with a worm, or shooting a fox." 

"You must not exaggerate, Parker," said 
the colonel calmly. * They are not as bad as 
that yet." 

Then he asked Aurelle politely if the box- 
ing had amused him. 

" I particularly admired, sir, the sporting 
discipline of your men. During the boxing, 
the Highlanders behaved as if they were in 

' The true sporting spirit has always some- 
thing religious about it," said the major. " A 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 15 

few years ago when the New Zealand football 
team visited England, and from the first match 
beat the English teams, the country was as 
upset as if we had lost this war. Every one 
in the streets and trains went about with long 
faces. Then the New Zealanders beat Scot- 
land, then Ireland; the end of the world had 
come! However, there remained the Welsh. 
On the day of the match there were one hun- 
dred thousand persons on the ground. You 
know that the Welsh are deeply religious and 
that their national anthem, * Land of our 
Fathers,' is also a prayer. When the two 
teams arrived the whole crowd, men and 
women, exalted and confident, sang this hymn 
to God before the battle, and the New Zea- 
landers were beaten. Ah, we are a great 

" Indeed, yes," said Aurelle, quite overcome, 
"you are a great nation." He added, after 
a moment's silence, " But you were also quite 
right just now when you said you were a 
curious nation in some things, and your opin- 
ion of people astonishes us sometimes. You 
say, * Brown looks an idiot, but he's not, he 
played cricket for Essex.' Or, 'At Eton we 
took him for a fool, but at Oxford he sur- 

1 6 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

prised us. Do you know he is plus four at 
golf, and won the high jump? ' 

" Well? " said the colonel. 

" Don't you think, sir, that cleverness " 

" I hate clever people Oh, I beg your 
pardon, messiou." 

' That's very kind of you, sir," said Aurelle. 

" Glad you take it like that," growled the 
colonel into his moustache. 

He spoke seldom and always in short sen- 
tences, but Aurelle had learnt to appreciate 
his dry and vigorous humour and the charm- 
ing smile which often lit up his rugged coun- 

" But don't you find yourself, Aurelle," 
went on Major Parker, " that intelligence 
is over-estimated with you? It is certainly 
more useful to know how to box than how to 
write. You would like Eton to go in for noth- 
ing but learning? It is just like asking a 
trainer of racehorses to be interested in cir- 
cus horses. We don't go to school to learn, 
but to be soaked in the prejudices of our 
class, without which we should be useless and 
unhappy. We are like the young Persians 
Herodotus talks about, who up to the age of 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 17 

twenty only learnt three sciences: to ride, to 
shoot and to tell the truth." 

"That may be/' said Aurelle, "but just 
see, major, how inconsistent you are. You 
despise learning and you quote Herodotus. 
Better still, I caught you the other day in the 
act of reading a translation of Xenophon in 
your dug-out. Very few Frenchmen, I assure 
vou " 

' That's quite different," said the major. 
4 The Greeks and Romans interest us, not as 
objects of study, but as ancestors and sports- 
men. We are the direct heirs of the mode of 
life of the Greeks and of the Roman Empire. 
Xenophon amuses me because he is a perfect 
type of the English gentleman, with his hunt- 
ing and fishing stories, and descriptions of bat- 
tles. When I read in Cicero: 'Scandal in 
the Colonial Office. Grave accusations against 
Sir Marcus Varro, Governor-General of 
Sicily,' you can well understand that that 
sounds to me like old faniily history. And 
who was your Alcibiades, pray, but a Winston 
Churchilf, without the hats?" 

The scenery round them was very pictur- 
esque: the Mont des Cats, the Mont Rouge, 

1 8 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

and the Mont Noir made a framework for 
the heavy, motionless clouds of an old Dutch 
painting. The peasants' houses with their 
weather-beaten, thatched roofs faded into the 
surrounding fields ; their dull walls had turned 
the colour of yellow clay. The grey shut- 
ters bordered with green struck the only vivid 
and human note in this kingdom of the 

The colonel pointed with his cane to a new 
mine crater; but Major Parker, sticking to 
his point, went on with his favourite subject: 

" The greatest service which sport has ren- 
dered us is that it has saved us from intellec- 
tual culture. Luckily, one hasn't time for 
everything, and golf and tennis cut out read- 
ing. We are stupid " 

"Nonsense, major!" said Aurelle. 

"We are stupid," emphatically repeated 
Major Parker, who hated being contradicted. 
" and it is a great asset. When we are in 
danger we don't notice it, because we don't 
reflect; so we keep cool and come out of it 
nearly always with honour." 

" Always," amended Colonel Bramble with 
his Scotch curtness. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 19 

And Aurelle, hopping agilely over the enor- 
mous ruts by the side of these two Goliaths, 
realized more clearly than ever that this war 
would end well. 


the table," said Colonel Bram- 
\i ble to the orderlies. " Bring the rum, 
a lemon, some sugar and hot water, 
and keep some more boiling. Then tell my 
batman to give me the gramophone and the 
box of records." 

This gramophone, a gift to the Highlanders 
from a very patriotic old lady, was the colo- 
nel's pride. He had it carried about after him 
everywhere and treated it with delicate care, 
feeding it every month with fresh records. 

"Messiou," he said to Aurelle, "what 
would you like? 'The Bing Boys,' 'Destiny 
Waltz/ or ' Caruso.' " 

Major Parker and Dr. O'Grady solemnly 
consigned Edison and all his works to a hotter 
place; the padre raised his eyes to heaven. 

" Anything you like, sir," said Aurelle, " ex- 
cept * Caruso.' ' 

"Why?" said the colonel. "It's a very 

good record, it cost twenty-two shillings. But 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 21 

first of all you must hear my dear Mrs. Finzi- 
Magrini in ' La Tosca.' Doctor, please reg- 
ulate it, I can't see very well Speed 61. 
Don't scratch the record, for God's sake ! " 

He sank down on his biscuit boxes, ar- 
ranged his back comfortably against a heap 
of sacks, and shut his eyes. His rugged face 
relaxed. The padre and the doctor were 
playing chess, and Major Parker was filling 
in long returns for brigade headquarters. 
Over a little wood, torn to bits by shells, an 
aeroplane was sailing home among fleecy 
white clouds in a lovely pale-green sky. 
Aurelle began a letter. 

" Padre," said the doctor, " if you are go- 
ing to the division to-morrow, ask them to send 
me some blankets for our dead Boches. You 
saw the one we buried this morning? The 
rats had half eaten him. It's indecent. 
Check to the king." 

1 Yes," said the padre, " and it's curious 
how they always begin at the nose! " 

Over their heads a heavy English battery 
began to bombard the German line. The 
padre smiled broadly. 

' There'll be dirty work at the cross roads 
to-night," he remarked with satisfaction. 

22 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" Padre," said the doctor, " are you not the 
minister of a religion of peace and love?" 

4 The Master said, my boy, that one 
must love one's fellow-man. He never said 
that we must love Germans. I take your 

The Reverend John Maclvor, an old mili- 
tary chaplain, with a face bronzed by Eastern 
suns, took to this life of war and horrors with 
the enthusiasm of a child. When the men 
were in the trenches he visited them every 
morning with his pockets bulging with hymn- 
books and packets of cigarettes. While rest- 
ing behind the lines, he tried his hand at bomb- 
ing and deplored the fact that his cloth for- 
bade him human targets. 

Major Parker suddenly stopped his work to 
curse Brass Hats and their absurd questions. 

' When I was in the Himalayas at Chitral," 
he said, " some red-hats sent us a ridiculous 
scheme for manoeuvres; among other details 
the artillery had to cross a rocky defile hardly 
wide enough for a very thin man. 

" I wired, * Scheme received; send immedi- 
ately a hundred barrels of vinegar.' ' Report 
yourself to the P.M.O. for mental examina- 
tion,' courteously remarked headquarters. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 23 

4 Re-read " Hannibal's Campaign," I re- 

"You really sent that telegram?" asked 
Aurelle. " In the French army you would 
have been court-martialled." 

" That's because our two nations have not 
the same idea of liberty," said the major. 
* To us the inalienable rights of man are 
humour, sport, and primogeniture." 

" At the headquarters of the brigade," said 
the padre, " there is a captain who must have 
had lessons from you in military correspond- 
ence. The other day, as I had no news of one 
of my young chaplains who had left us about 
a month, I sent a note to the brigade: ' The 
Reverend C. Carlisle was invalided on Sep- 
tember 12th. I should like to know if he is 
better, and if he has been given a new appoint- 
ment.' The reply from the hospital said sim- 
ply: ' 1. Condition unchanged. 2. Ultimate 
destination unknown.' The officer in trans- 
mitting it to me had added, ' It is not clear 
whether the last paragraph refers to the unit 
to which the Rev. C. Carlisle will be eventually 
attached, or to his eternal welfare.' ' 

The Italian air came to an end with a tri- 
umphant roulade. 

24 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" What a voice! " said the colonel, opening 
his eyes regretfully. 

He carefully stopped the record and put it 
affectionately in its case. 

" Now, messiou, I am going to play ' Des- 
tiny Waltz.' " 

One could just see outside the Verey lights 
gently rising and falling. The padre and the 
doctor went on describing their corpses while 
carefully manoeuvring the ivory pieces of the 
little set of chessmen; the howitzers and 
machine-guns broke into the voluptuous 
rhythm of the waltz, creating a sort of fan- 
tastic symphony highly appreciated by 
Aurelle. He continued to write his letter in 
easy verses. 

" Death is a-f oot ; Fate calls the tune ; 

Lose not a minute 

Forget! But wear your black till June; 
You're charming in it. 

I will not have you come with tears, 

With roses vain ; 
Young life will ask, in coming years, 

Your rose again. 

Don't be angry with me, dearest, if I descend to 
the lowest level of ' romantics ' ; a clergyman and a 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 25 

doctor, beside me, are intent on playing the r61c of 
the Grave-diggers in Hamlet. 

Pity me not, for I shall sleep 

Like any child, 
And from my changing earth up leap 

The grasses wild. ' 

But if, when summer hours grow few, 

And dusk is long, 
Your gaze, madonna-calm, should do 

Your beauty wrong, 

Nor lend that sadness to your face 

I cherish yet, 
Forget, then, for a little space, 

That you forget." 

" Do you like my waltz, messiou? " said the 

" Very much indeed, sir," said Aurelle sin- 

The colonel gave him a grateful smile. 

" I'll play it again for you, messiou. Doc- 
tor, regulate the gramophone slower, speed 
59. Don't scratch the record. For you, this 
time, messiou." 


BOSWELL. " Why then, sir, did he talk so? " 
JOHNSON. "Why, sir, to make you answer as you 

THE batteries were asleep; Major Parker 
was answering questions from the bri- 
gade; the orderlies brought the rum, 
sugar and boiling water; the colonel put the 
gramophone to speed 61 and Dr. O'Grady 
talked about the Russian Revolution. 

" It is unprecedented," said he, " for the 
men who made a revolution to remain in power 
after it is over. Yet one still finds revolu- 
tionaries: that proves how badly history is 

" Parker," said the colonel, " pass the port." 
" Ambition," said Aurelle, " is after all not 
the only motive that inspires men to action. 
One can be a revolutionary from hatred of a 
tyrant, from jealousy, or even from the love 
of humanity." 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 27 

Major Parker abandoned his papers. 

" I admire France very much, Aurelle, espe- 
cially since this war ; but one thing shocks me 
in your country, if you will allow me to speak 
plainly, and that is your jealousy of equality. 
When I read the history of your Revolution 
I am sorry I was not there to kick Robespierre 
and that horrible fellow Hebert. And your 
sans-culottes. Well, that makes me long to 
dress up in purple satin and gold lace and 
walk about the Place de la Concorde." 

The doctor allowed a particularly acute 
attack of hysteria on the part of Madame 
Finzi-Magrini to pass, and went on: 

" The love of humanity is a pathological 
state of a sexual origin which often appears 
at the age of puberty in nervous and clever 
people. The excess of phosphorus in the sys- 
tem must get out somewhere. As for hatred 
of a tyrant, that is a more human sentiment 
which has full play in time of war, when force 
and the mob are one. Emperors must be mad 
fools to decide on declaring wars which sub- 
stitute an armed nation for their Praetorian 
Guards. That idiocy accomplished, despotism 
of course produces revolution until terrorism 
leads to the inevitable reaction." 

28 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

' You condemn us then, doctor, to oscillate 
between rebellion and a coup d'etat? " 

" No," said the doctor, " because the Eng- 
lish people, who have already given the world 
Stilton cheese and comfortable chairs, have in- 
vented for our benefit the Parliamentary sys- 
tem. Our M.P.'s arrange rebellions and 
coups d'etat for us, which leaves the rest of 
the nation time to play cricket. The Press 
completes the system by enabling us to take 
our share in these tumults by proxy. All these 
things form a part of modern comfort and in 
a hundred years' time every man, white, yel- 
low, red or black, will refuse to inhabit a room 
without hot water laid on, or a country with- 
out a Parliament." 

" I hope you are wrong," said Major Par- 
ker. " I hate politicians, and I want, after 
the War, to go and live in the East, because 
nobody out there pays any attention to a gov- 
ernment of babblers." 

" My dear major, why the devil do you mix 
your personal feelings with these questions? 
Politics are controlled by laws as necessary as 
the movements of the stars. Are you an- 
noyed that there are dark nights because you 
happen to prefer moonlight? Humanity lies 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 29 

on an uncomfortable bed. When the sleeper 
aches too much he turns over, that is a war 
or an insurrection. Then he goes to sleep 
again for a few centuries. All that is quite 
natural and happens without much suffering, 
if one does not mix up any moral ideas with 
it. Attacks of cramp are not virtues. But 1 
each change finds, alas, its prophets who, from 
love of humanity, as Aurelle says, put this 
miserable globe to fire and sword." 

" That's very well said, doctor," said Au- 
relle, "but I return the compliment; if those 
are your sentiments, why do you take the trou- 
ble to belong to a party? Because you are a 
damned socialist." 

" Doctor," said the colonel, " pass, the port." 
"Ah," said the doctor, "that's because I 
would rather be persecutor than persecuted. 
You must know how to recognize the arrival 
of these periodical upheavals and prepare. 
This war will bring socialism, that is to say, 
the total sacrifice of the aristocrat to the Levia- 
than. This in itself is neither a blessing nor a 
misfortune: it is a cramp. Let us then turn 
over with a good grace, as long as we feel we 
shall be more comfortable on the other side." 
4 That's a perfectly absurd theory," said 

3<3 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Major Parker, angrily sticking out his square 
chin, " and if you adopt it, doctor, you must 
give up medicine! Why try and stop the 
course of diseases? They are also, according 
to you, periodic and necessary upheavals. But 
if you pretend to fight against tuberculosis do 
not deny me the right to attack universal suf- 

At this moment a R.A.M.C. sergeant en- 
tered and asked Dr. O'Grady to come and see 
a wounded man: Major Parker remained mas- 
ter of the situation. The colonel, who had a 
horror of arguments, seized the opportunity 
to talk about something else. 

" Messiou," he said, " what is the displace- 
ment of one of your largest cruisers? " 

" Sixty thousand tons, sir," hazarded 
Aurelle wildly. 

This knock-out blow put the colonel out of 
action, and Aurelle asked Major Parker why 
he objected to universal suffrage. 

" But don't you see, my dear Aurelle, that 
it is the most extravagant idea that humanity 
has ever conceived? Our political system will 
be considered more monstrous than slavery in 
a thousand years. One man, one vote, what- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 3* 

ever the man is! Do you pay the same price 
for a good horse as for a erock? " 

" Have you ever heard the immortal rea- 
soning of our Courteline? 'Why should I 
pay twelve francs for an umbrella when I can 
get a glass of beer for six sous? ' 

"Equal rights for men!" continued the 
major vehemently. " Why not equal courage 
and equal intelligence while you are about it? " 

Aurelle loved the major's impassioned and 
pleasant harangues and, to keep the discussion 
going, said that he did not see how one could 
refuse a people the right to choose their 

"To control them, Aurelle, yes; but to 
choose them, never ! An aristocracy cannot be 
elected. It is or it isn't. Why, if I were to 
attempt to choose the Commander-in-Chief or 
the Superintendent of Guy's Hospital, I 
should be shut up ; but, if I wish to have a voice 
in the election of the Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer or the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
I'm a good citizen! " 

' That is not quite correct, major. Minis- 
ters are not elected. Mind, I agree with you 
that our political system is imperfect; but so 

32 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

are all human affairs. And then, e La pire 
des Chambres vaut mieux que la meilleure des 
antichambres? " 

" I piloted round London lately," replied 
the major, " an Arab chief who honoured me 
with his friendship, and when I had shown him 
the House of Commons and explained what 
went on there, he remarked, ' It must give you 
a lot of trouble cutting off those six hundred 
heads when you are not pleased with the 
Government.' ' 

".Messiou," said the colonel, exasperated, 
" \ am going to play ' Destiny Waltz/ for 


Major Parker remained silent while the 
waltz unrolled its rhythmic phrases, but he 
ruminated over his old resentment against that 
" horrible fellow Hebert " and, as soon as the 
record had ground out its final notes, he 
started a new attack on Aurelle. 

"What advantage," he said, "could the 
French have found in changing their govern- 
ment eight times in a century? Revolutions 
have become a national institution with you. 
In England, it would be impossible. If a 
crowd collected at Westminster and made a 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 33 

disturbance, the policeman would tell them to 
go away and they would do so." 

" What an idea! " said Aurelle, who did not 
like Revolutions, but who thought he ought 
to defend an old French lady against this hot- 
headed Saxon. " You must not forget, major, 
that you also cut off your King's head. No 
policeman intervened to save Charles Stuart, 
as far as I know." 

" The assassination of Charles I," said the 
major, " was the sole work of Oliver Crom- 
well; now Oliver was a very good cavalry colo- 
nel, but he knew nothing of the real feelings 
of the English people, which they showed 
pretty plainly at the time of the Restoration. 

" Cromwell's head, which had been em- 
balmed, was stuck on a pike on the top of 
Westminster Hall. One stormy night the 
wind broke the shaft of the pike and the head 
rolled to the feet of the sentry. He took it 
home and hid it in the chimney of his house, 
where it remained until his death. It passed 
through various hands till it came into the 
possession of a friend of mine, and I have 
often sat at tea opposite the head of the Pro- 
tector still on its broken pike. One could 
easily recognize the wart which he had on his 

34 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

forehead and there still remains a lock of chest- 
nut hair." 

" Humph," grunted the colonel, at last in- 
terested in the conversation. 

:< Besides," continued the major, " the Eng- 
lish Revolution does not compare in any way 
with the French one: it did not weaken the 
ruling classes. As a matter of fact, all the 
bad business of 1789 was caused by Louis 
XIV. Instead of leaving your country the 
strong armour of a landed gentry he made 
his nobles into the ridiculous puppets of Ver- 
sailles, whose 3ole business was to hand him 
his coat and his waistcoat. In destroying the 
prestige of a class which should be the natural 
supporters of the monarchy, he ruined it be- 
yond repair, and more's the pity." 

" It is very easy for you to criticize us," 
said Aurelle. ' We made our Revolution 
for you: the most important event in English 
history is the taking of the Bastile, and well 
you know it." 

:< Bravo, messiou," said the colonel, " stick 
up for your country. One ought always to 
stick up for one's country. Now please pass 
the port. I am going to play you The 
Mikado/ " 



Somewhere m France. 
Singing, the soldiers go their way : 

** Stow your troubles inside your kit." 
Such rain and wind, that you'd rather stay 

Indoors, than walk out with your girl in it. 
Singing, the soldiers go their way: 

I'm making you verses so here I sit ; 
Singing, the soldiers go their way : 

" Stow your troubles inside your kit." 

Here is the orderly bringing, let's say, 

Last week's papers, perhaps a chit ; 
Stale chatter of old political play, 

" Stow your troubles inside your kit." 
All we can do, though the year is at May, 

Best we can furnish by way of wit ; 
Singing, the soldiers go their way: 

" Stow your troubles inside your kit." 

Rain on the window, beating like spray, 
Storms an accompaniment, noisily fit, 
To some prelude of Wagner's forgotten day, 

" Stow your troubles inside your kit." 

36 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Who knows but to-morrow a howitzer may 

Give me uncivil notice to quit. 
But Satan may ask me to wet my clay 

So " stow your troubles inside your kit : " 
Singing, the soldiers go their way. 

GREY dawn is breaking over the spongy 
plain. To-day will be the same as yes- 
terday, to-morrow like to-day. The 
doctor will wave his arms and say, " Tres triste, 
messiou," and he will not know what is sad, no 
more shall I. Then he will give me a humor- 
ous lecture in a style between Bernard Shaw 
and the Bible. 

The padre will write letters, play patience 
and go out riding. The guns will thunder, 
Boches will be killed, some of our men too. 
We shall lunch off bully beef and boiled pota- 
toes, the beer will be horrible, and the colonel 
will say to me, " Biere fran9aise no bonne, 


In the evening, after a dinner of badly 
cooked mutton, with mint sauce, and boiled 
potatoes, the inevitable gramophone will ap- 
pear. We shall have " The Arcadians," " The 
Mikado," then "Destiny Waltz" "pour 
vous, messiou " and " Mrs, Finzi-Magrini " 
for the colonel, and finally " The Lancashire 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 37 

Ramble." Unfortunately for me, the first 
time that I heard this circus tune I imitated a 
juggler catching balls in time to the music. 
This little comedy henceforth took its place in 
the traditions of the Mess, and if this evening 
at the first notes of the " Ramble " I should 
forget to play my part the colonel will say, 
" Allons, messiou, allons," pretending to jug- 
gle, but I know my duty and I shall not for- 
get; for Colonel Bramble only cares for fa- 
miliar scenes and fine old crusted jokes. 

His favourite number is a recitation by 
O'Grady of " Going on leave." When he is 
in a bad temper, when one of his old friends 
has been made a brigadier-general, or been 
given a C.B., this recitation is the only thing 
that can make him smile. He knows it by 
heart and, like the children, stops the doctor 
if he misses a sentence or alters a reply. 

" No, doctor, no ; the Naval officer said to 
you, 'When you hear four loud short whis- 
tles, it means that the ship has been torpe- 
doed,' and you replied, * And what if the tor- 
pedo carries away the whistle? ' 

The doctor, having found his place, goes on. 

Parker, too, one day found a remark which 
ever afterwards had a brilliant success. He 

38 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

got it out of a letter that a chaplain had writ- 
ten to the Times. " The life of the soldier," 
wrote this excellent man, "is one of great 
hardship; not infrequently mingled with mo- 
ments of real danger." 

The colonel thoroughly enjoys the uncon- 
scious humour of this remark, and would quote 
it whenever a shell scattered gravel over him. 
But his great resource, if the conversation 
bores him, is to attack the padre on his two 
weak points: bishops and Scotchmen. 

The padre, who comes from the Highlands, 
is madly patriotic. He is convinced that it is 
only Scotchmen who play the game and who 
are really killed. 

" If history told the truth," he says, " this 
war would not be called the European War, 
but the war between Scotland and Germany." 

The colonel is Scotch himself, but he is fair, 
and every time he finds in the papers the cas- 
ualty lists of the Irish Guards or the Welsh 
Fusiliers he reads them out in a loud voice to 
the padre, who, to keep his end up, maintains 
that the Welsh Fusiliers and Irish Guards are 
recruited in Aberdeen. This is his invariable 

All this may appear rather puerile to 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 39 

my friend, but these childish things are the 
only bright spots in our boring, bombarded 
existence. Yes, these wonderful men have re- 
mained children in many ways ; they have the 
fresh outlook, and the inordinate love of 
games, and our rustic shelter often seems to 
me like a nursery of heroes. 

But I have profound faith in them; their 
profession of empire-builders has inspired 
them with high ideals of the duty of the white 
man. The colonel and Parker are " Sahibs " 
whom nothing on earth would turn from the 
path they have chosen. To despise danger, 
to stand firm under fire, is not an act of cour- 
age in their eyes it is simply part of their 
education. If a small dog stands up to a big 
one they say gravely, " He is a gentleman." 

A true gentleman, you see, is very nearly 
the most sympathetic type which evolution has 
produced among the pitiful group of creatures 
who are at this moment making such a noise 
in the world. Amid the horrible wickedness 
of the species, the English have established an 
oasis of courtesy and phlegm. I love them. 

I must add that it is a very foolish error 
to imagine that they are less intelligent than 
ourselves, in spite of the delight ray friend 

4 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Major Parker pretends to take in affirming 
the contrary. The truth is that their intelli- 
gence follows a different method from ours. 
Far removed from our standard of rationalism 
and the pedantic sentiment of the Germans, 
they delight in a vigorous common sense and 
all absence of system. Hence a natural and 
simple manner which makes their sense of 
humour still more delightful. 

But I see, from the window, my horse wait- 
ing for me; and I must go round to the surly 
farmers and get some straw for the quarter- 
master, who is trying to build stables. But 
you are furnishing boudoirs, and mind you 
choose, O Amazon, soft, oriental silks. 

In your salon, style "Directory " 
(Lavender-blue and lemon-yellow) 
Ancient armchairs sit, hail-fellow, 
In a fashion contradictory, 
With a sofa lacking history 
(Lavender-blue and lemon-yellow). 

To our Merveilleuses notorious 
(Lavender-blue and lemon-yellow) 
Dandies striped with chevrons mellow 
Shall proclaim a day victorious, 
Decked in dolmans all-vainglorious 
(Lavender-blue and lemon-yellow). 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 41 

Walls severe, as bare as a church 
(Lavender-blue and lemon-yellow), 
May wait awhile the brutal bellow 
Of some First-Consul, who may lurch 
Upon their calm of days memorial 
With his visage dictatorial 
(Lavender eyed and skin of yellow). 

"Are you a poet?" the colonel asked me 
doubtfully, when he saw me writing lines of 
equal length. 

I denied the soft impeachment. 


IT had been raining for four days. The 
heavy raindrops played a monotonous tat- 
too on the curved roof of the tent. Out- 
side in the field the grass had disappeared un- 
der yellow mud, in which the men's footsteps 
sounded like the smacking of a giant's lips. 

" ' And God looked upon the earth, and 
hehold, it was corrupt,'" recited the padre; 
4 and God said to Noah, Make thee an ark 
of gopher wood ; rooms shalt thou make in the 
ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with 
pitch/ " 

* The same day were all the fountains of 
the great deep broken up, and the windows of 
heaven were opened,' " continued the doctor. 
" The Flood," he added, " was a real event, 
for its description is common to all oriental 
mythology. No doubt the Euphrates had 
burst its banks ; that's why the Ark was driven 
into the interior and came to rest on a hill. 
Similar catastrophes often occur in Mesppo- 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 43 

tamia and in India, but are rare in Belgium." 

" The cyclone of 1876 killed 215,000 people 
in Bengal," said the colonel. " Messiou, send 
round the port, please." 

The colonel loved .statistics, to the great mis- 
fortune of Aurelle, who, quite incapable of 
remembering figures, was interrogated every 
day on the number of inhabitants in a village, 
the strength of the Serbian army, or the initial 
velocity of the French bullet. He foresaw 
with terror that the colonel was going to ask 
him the average depth of rain in feet and 
inches in Flanders, and he hastened to create 
a diversion. 

" I found in Poperinghe," he said, showing 
the book he was reading, " this very curious 
old volume. It is a description of England 
and Scotland by the Frenchman, Etienne 
Perlin, Paris, 1558." 

"Humph! What does this Mr. Perlin 
say?" asked the colonel, who had the same 
respect for ancient things as he had for old 

Aurelle opened the book at hazard and 

' After dinner, the cloth is withdrawn 
and the ladies retire. The table is of beau- 

441 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

tif ul glossy Indian wood, and stands of the 
same wood hold the bottles. The name of 
each wine is engraved on a silver plate which 
hangs by a little chain round the neck of the 
bottle. The guests each choose the wine they 
like and drink it as seriously as if they were 
doing penance, while proposing the health of 
eminent personages or the fashionable beau- 
ties ; this is what is known as a toast.' ' 

" I like * fashionable beauties,' ' ' said the 
doctor. " Perhaps Aurelle will take to drink- 
ing port, now he can pour libations to Gaby 
Deslys or Gladys Cooper." 

" There are toasts for each day in the week," 
said the colonel, " Monday, our men; Tuesday, 
ourselves ; Wednesday, our swords ; Thursday, 
sport; Friday, our religion; Saturday, sweet- 
hearts and wives; Sunday, absent friends and 
ships at sea." 

Aurelle went on reading aloud: 

* The toasts are of barbaric origin, and I 
have been told that the Highlanders of Scot- 
land, a semi-savage folk who live in a state 
of perpetual feud' " 

:c Listen to that, padre," said the colonel. 
" Read it again, messiou, for the padre. ' I 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 45 

have been told that the Highlanders of Scot- 
land' " 

* A semi-savage folk who live in a state of 
perpetual feud, have kept to the original char- 
acter of this custom. To drink the health of 
anyone is to ask him to guard you while you 
drink and cannot defend yourself; and the 
person to whom you drink replies, " I pledge 
you," which means in their language, " I 
guarantee your safety." Then he draws his 
dagger, places the point on the table and pro- 
tects you until your glass is empty.' ' 

"That's why," said Major Parker, *' the 
pewter pots that they give for golf prizes have 
always got glass bottoms through which one 
can see the dagger of the assassin." 

" Send round the port, messiou, I want to 
drink the padre's health in a second glass to 
hear him reply, * I pledge you,' and to see him 
put the point of his dagger on the table." 

" I've only got a Swiss knife," said the 

* That's good enough," said the colonel. 

' This theory of the origin of toasts is very 
probable," said the doctor. * We are always 
repeating ancestral signs which are quite use- 

46 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

less now. When a great actress wants to ex- 
press hate she draws back her charming lips 
and shows her canine teeth, an unconscious 
sign of cannibalism. We shake hands with a 
friend to prevent him using it to strike us, 
and we take off our hats because our ancestors 
used to humbly offer their heads, to the big- 
wigs of those days, to be cut off." 

At that moment there was a loud crack, and 
Colonel Bramble fell backwards with a crash. 
One of the legs of his chair had broken. The 
doctor and Parker helped him up, while 
Aurelle and the padre looked on in fits of 

4 There's a good example of an ancestral 
survival," said the major, kindly intervening 
to save Aurelle, who was trying in vain to stop 
laughing. " I imagine that one laughs at a 
fall because the death of a man was one of the 
most amusing sights for our ancestors. It 
delivered them from an adversary and dimin- 
ished the number of those who shared the food 
and the females." 

" Now we know you, messiou," said the 

" A French philosopher," said Aurelle, who 
had by this time recovered, " has constructed 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 47 

quite a different theory of laughter: he is 
called Bergson and " 

" I have heard of him," said the padre ; " he's 
a clergyman, isn't he? " 

" I have a theory about laughter," said the 
doctor, " which is much more edifying than 
yours, major. I think it is simply produced 
by a feeling of horror, immediately succeeded 
by a feeling of relief. A young monkey who 
is devoted to the old father of the tribe sees 
him slip on a banana skin, he fears an accident 
and his chest swells with fright, then he discov- 
ers that it's nothing and all his muscles pleas- 
antly relax. That was the first joke, and it 
explains the convulsive motions in laughing. 
Aurelle is shaken physically because he is 
shaken morally by two strong motives: his 
anxious affection and respect for the colo- 

" Ugh," grunted the colonel. 

" And the consoling certainty that he is not 

' I wish you would talk about something 
else," said the colonel. " Read a little more 
of the book, messiou." 

Aurelle turned over some pages. 

" c Other nations,' " he read, " ' accuse the 

48 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

English of incivility because they arrive and 
depart without touching their hats, and with- 
out that flow of compliments which are com- 
mon to the French and Italians. But those 
who judge thus see things in a false light. 
The English idea is that politeness does not 
consist in gestures or words which are often 
hypocritical and deceptive, but in being cour- 
teously disposed to other people. They have 
their faults like every nation, but, considering 
everything, I am sure that the more one knows 
them the more one esteems and likes them.' ' 

" I like old Mr. Perlin," said the colonel. 
" Do you agree with him, messiou? " 

" The whole of France now agrees with him, 
sir," said Aurelle warmly. 

" You are biased, Aurelle," said Major 
Parker, " because you are getting quite Eng- 
lish yourself. You whistle in your bath, you 
drink whisky and are beginning to like argu- 
ments ; if you could only manage to eat toma- 
toes and underdone cutlets for breakfast you 
would be perfect." 

" If you don't mind, major, I would rather 
remain French," said Aurelle. ;< Besides, I 
never knew that whistling in one's bath was 
an English rite." 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 49 

" So much so," said the doctor, " that I have 
arranged to have carved on my tombstone: 
' Here lies a British subject who never whis- 
tled in his bath or tried to be an amateur de- 
tective.' " 


BRITISH conversation is like a game of 
cricket or a boxing match ; personal allu- 
sions are forbidden like hitting below the 
belt, and anyone who loses his temper is dis- 

Aurelle met at the Lennox Mess veterina- 
ries and generals, tradesmen and dukes. Ex- 
cellent whisky was provided and the guests en- 
tertained in a friendly way without boring 
them with too much attention. 

" It rains a lot in your country," said a 
major in the Engineers who sat next him one 

" So it does in England," said Aurelle. 

" I intend," said the major, " when this 
damned war is over, to leave the army and 
go and live in New Zealand." 
c You have friends there? " 

" Oh, no, but the salmon fishing is very 

" Bring your rod over here while we are 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 51 

resting, major, the pond is full of enormous 

' I never fish for pike," said the major, " he 
is not a gentleman. When he sees he is 
caught he gives up; the salmon fights to the 
end, even without hope. A thirty-pound fel- 
low will sometimes fight two hours; that's 
something like, isn't it ? " 

" Admirable ! " said Aurelle. " And what 
about trout? " 

' The trout is a lady," said the major; 
" you must deceive her ; but it is not easy, 
because she is a judge of flies. And you," he 
added politely, after a short silence, "what 
do you do in peace time? " 

" I write a little," said Aurelle, " and I am 
trying for a degree." 

" No, no; I mean what is your sport fish- 
ing, hunting, golf, polo?" 

" To tell the truth," acknowledged Aurelle, 
' I am not much good at sport. I am not 
very strong and " 

" I'm sorry to hear that, 5 ' said the major, 
but he turned to his other neighbour and both- 
ered no more about the Frenchman. 

Aurelle was thrown back on the Veterinary 
Captain Clarke sitting on his left, who had 

52 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

up to then been eating and drinking without 
saying a word. 

" It rains a lot in your country," said Cap- 
tain Clarke. 

" So it does in England," said Aurelle. 

"I intend," said Clarke, "when this 
damned war is over to go back to Santa 

Aurelle asked if the captain's family lived 
in the Antilles. 

He was horrified. 

" Oh, no! I belong to a Staffordshire fam- 
ily. I went out there quite by chance; I was 
travelling for pleasure and my boat touched 
at Santa Lucia; I found the heat very agree- 
able and I stayed there. I bought some land 
very cheap and I grow cocoa." 

" And it does not bore you? " 

" No, the nearest white man is six miles off, 
and the coast of the island is excellent for sail- 
ing. What more could I do at home? When 
I go to England for three months' holiday, I 
spend a week at my old home, then I go off 
in a yacht alone. I have been all round your 
Brittany coast ; it is delightful because the cur- 
rents are so difficult and your charts are so 
good; but it is not warm enough. At Santa 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 53 

Lucia I can smoke cigarettes in my pyjamas 
on my veranda." 

He slowly swallowed his port and con- 
cluded : 

" No, I don't like Europe too much work. 
But, out there, there is enough food for every- 

The colonel at the other end of the table 
was holding forth about India, the white 
ponies of his regiment, the native servants 
with their complicated names and varied 
duties, and the lax life in the Hills. Parker 
described hunting on an elephant. 

" You stand up on your animal firmly tied 
on by one leg, and when the elephant gallops 
you fly into space: it's really most exciting." 

" I'll take your word for it," said Aurelle. 

" Yes, but if you try it," said the colonel 
solicitously to Aurelle, " don't forget to slide 
off by the tail as quickly as you can if the ele- 
phant comes to marshy ground. His instinct, 
when the ground gives way beneath him, is to 
seize you in his trunk and put you down 
in front of him to have something solid to 
kneel on." 

" I'll remember, sir," said Aurelle. 

" In the Malay States," said the major of 

54 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Engineers, " the wild elephants wander about 
the main roads. I often met them when I was 
on my motor-bike ; if your face or your clothes 
annoy them they pick you off and smash your 
head by treading on it. But except for that 
they are quite inoffensive." 

A long discussion on the most vulnerable 
part of an elephant followed. The padre 
showed his knowledge by explaining how the 
anatomy of the Indian elephant differed from 
that of the African species. 

" Padre," said Aurelle, " I always knew you 
were a sportsman; but have you ever really 
done any big game shooting? " 

" What! my dear fellow? Big game? I've 
killed pretty nearly everything a hunter can 
kill, from the elephant and rhinoceros to the 
lion and tiger. I've never told you the story 
of my first lion?" 

" Never, padre," said the doctor, " but you 
are going to now." 

" Padre," said the colonel, " I should like to 
hear your stories, but I make one condition: 
some one must start the gramophone for me. 
I want my dear ' Mrs. Finzi-Magrini ' to- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 55 

"Oh, no, sir, for pity's sake! I'll let you 
have a rag-time if you absolutely must grind 
that damned machine." 

" Not at all, doctor, you aren't going to get 
off so easily. I insist on ' Finzi-Magrini.' 
Come, Aurelle, like a good chap, and remem- 
ber, speed 65, and don't scratch my record. 
Padre, you may now begin the story of your 
first lion." 

" I was at Johannesburg and very much 
wanted to join a sporting club, as a number 
of the members were friends of mine. But 
the rules did not admit any candidate who had 
not at least killed a lion. So I set out with 
a nigger loaded with several rifles, and that 
evening lay in wait with him near a water- 
hole where a lion was accustomed to come and 

" Half an hour before midnight I heard the 
crashing of branches and over the top of a 
bush appeared the head of a lion. He had 
winded us and looked our way. I aimed and 
fired. The head disappeared behind the bush, 
but appeared again after a minute. A sec- 
ond shot, the same result. The brute got 
frightened, hid his head and then put it up 

56 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

again. I remained quite cool, I had sixteen 
shots to fire in my various rifles. Third shot, 
same old game; fourth shot, ditto. 

" I got unnerved and shot badly, so that 
after the fifteenth shot the beast put up his 
head again. ' Miss that one, him eat us,' said 
the nigger. I took a long breath, aimed care- 
fully and fired. The animal fell. One second 
two ten he did 'not reappear. I waited 
a little longer, then I rushed out followed by 
my nigger, and guess, messiou, what I found 

"The lion, padre." 

"Sixteen lions, my boy, and every one had 
a bullet in its eye! That's how I made my 

"By Jove, padre! Who says the Scotch 
have no imagination? " 

" Now listen to a true story. It was in 
India that I first killed a woman. Yes, yes, 
a woman! I had set out tiger-shooting when 
in passing through a village, buried in the jun- 
gle, an old native stopped me. ' Sahib, sahib, 
a bear ! * And he pointed out a moving black 
shape up a tree. I took aim quickly and fired. 
The mass fell heavily with a crashing of 
branches, and I discovered an old woman, 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 57 

whom I had demolished while she was picking 
fruit. Another old nigger, the husband, over- 
whelmed me with abuse. They went and 
fetched the native policeman. I had to buy 
off the family; it cost a terrible lot, at least 
two pounds. 

" The story soon got about for twenty miles 
around, and for several weeks I could not go 
through a village without two or three old men 
rushing at me and crying, ' Sahib, sahib, a bear 
up the tree ! ' I need hardly tell you that they 
had just made their wives climb up." 

Then Parker described a crocodile hunt, and 
Captain Clarke gave some details about 
sharks in Bermuda, which are not dangerous 
as long as people take the precaution of jump- 
ing into the water in company. The colonel, 
meanwhile, played " The March of the Lost 
Brigade." in slow time. The New Zealand 
major put some eucalyptus leaves in the fire 
so that the smell might remind' him of the 
Bush. Aurelle, rather dazed, fuddled with 
the Indian sun and the scent of wild animals, 
at last realized that this world is a great park 
laid out by a gardener god for the gentlemen 
of the United Kingdoms. 


Since you are kept indoors beside the ember, 
Since you despise the novels on your lists, 
Since, happily, no happy man exists, 
And since this August wickedly persists 
To play December, 

I scribble you these lines sans form or feet, 
Sans rhyme and reason, which one more deplores, 
Which I shall call, when stand my works complete, 
" Talk with a lady who was kept indoors 
By rain and sleet." 

I know not if your sentiment's the same, 

But when I idly sit, in idle dreams, 

And the rain* falls upon my heart, it seems . . , 

" A URELLE," said the doctor, " this time 
/"\ you are writing verses ; deny it if you 

can. You are taken red-handed." 
"M-ph!" grunted the colonel scornfully, 

but with indulgence. 

" I own to it, doctor, but what then? Is it 

contrary to King's Regulations?" 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 59 

" No," said the doctor, " but I'm surprised. 
I have always been convinced that the French 
cannot be a nation of poets. Poetry is rhymed 
foolishness. Now you are not a fool, and you 
have no sense of rhythm." 

" You do not know our poets," said Aurelle, 
annoyed. " Have you read Musset, Hugo, 

" I know Hugo," said the Colonel. " When 
I commanded the troops in Guernsey I was 
shown his house. I also tried to read his book, 
"The Toilers of the Sea/ but it was too 

The arrival of Major Parker, pushing in 
front of him two boyish-looking captains, put 
an end to this conference. 

" Here are young Gibbons and Warburton. 
You must give them a cup of tea before send- 
ing them back to their companies. I found 
them sitting on the side of the Zillebeke Road, 
no doubt waiting for a taxi. These London 
people will expect anything." 

Gibbons was returning from leave, and 
Warburton, a dark Welshman very like a 
Frenchman, who had been wounded two 
months before in Artois, was rejoining the 
Lennox after sick leave. 

60 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" Aurelle, give me a cup of tea like a good 
fellow," said Major Parker. " Oh, the milk 
first, I beseech you! And ask for a whisky 
and soda to wake up Captain Gibbons, will 
you? He looks as if he had just come out of 
his wigwam and had not dug up his war 
hatchet yet." 

" It's such a horrible change," said Gibbons. 
" Yesterday morning I was still in my garden 
in a real English valley, with hedges and trees. 
Everything was clean and fresh and cared-for 
and happy. My pretty sisters-in-law were 
playing tennis. We were all dressed in white, 
and here I am suddenly transported into this 
dreadful mangled wood among you band of 
assassins. When do you think this damned 
war will be over? I am such a peaceable man! 
I prefer church bells to guns and the piano to 
a Hotchkiss. My one ambition is to live in 
the country with my plump little wife and a 
lot of plump little children." And, raising his 
glass, he concluded, " I drink to the end of 
these follies, arid to hell with the Boches who 
brought us here ! " 

But keen Warburton cut in immediately. 

" I like the War. It is only War that gives 
us a normal existence. What do you do in 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 61 

peace-time? You stay at home; you don't 
know what to do with your time; you argue 
with your parents, and your wife if you 
have one. Everyone thinks you are an insuf- 
ferable egotist and so you are. The War 
comes; you only go home every five or six 
months. You are a hero, and, what women 
appreciate much more, you are a change. You 
know stories that have never been published. 
You've seen strange men and terrible things. 
Your father, instead of telling his friends that 
you are embittering the end of his life, intro- 
duces you to them as an oracle. These old 
men consult you on foreign politics. If you 
are married, your wife is prettier than ever; 
if you are not, all the girls lay siege to 

4 You like the country? Well, you live in 
a wood here. You love your wife? But who 
was it said that it is easier to die for the woman 
one loves than to live with her? For myself 
I prefer a Hotchkiss to the piano, and the 
chatter of my men to that of the old ladies 
who come to tea at my home. No, Gibbons, 
War is a wonderful epoch," and, holding up 
his glass, he said, " I drink to the gentle Hun 
who procures these pleasures for us." 

62 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Then he described his time at the Duchess' 

" I thought I was with the Queen of the 
Fairies. We got everything we wanted with- 
out asking for it. When our fiancees were 
coming to see us, we were propped up with 
cushions to match the colour of our eyes. A 
fortnight before I could get up they brought 
twelve brightly coloured dressing-gowns for 
me to choose wilich one I would wear the first 
time I was allowed out of bed. I chose a red 
and green one, which was hung up near me, 
and I was in such a hurry to put it on that I 
got well three days quicker. There was a 
Scotch captain with such a beautiful wife that 
all the patients' temperatures went up when 
she came to see him. They ended by making 
a special door for her near her husband's bed, 
so that she need not walk down the whole 
ward. Oh, I hope I shall be wounded soon! 
Doctor, promise to send me to the Duchess' 

But Gibbons, with eyes still full of tender 
memories of home, would not be consoled. 
The padre, who was wise and kind, made him 
describe the last revue at the Palace, and com- 
placently discussed the legs and shoulders of 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 63 

a " sweet little thing/' The colonel got out 
his best records and played " Mrs. Finzi- 
Magrini " and " Destiny Waltz " to his guests. 
Gibbons sat with his head in his hands during 
the waltz. The colonel was going to chaff 
him mildly about his melancholy thoughts, but 
the little captain got up at the end of the tune 
and said: 

" I had better be off before dark." And off 
he went. 

" Silly ass," said Parker, after a pause. 

The colonel and the padre agreed. Aurelle 
alone protested. 

" Aurelle, my friend," said Dr. O'Grady, 
" if you want to be thought anything of 
amongst Englishmen, you must make yourself 
see their point of view. They don't care for 
melancholy people, and have a contempt for 
sentiment. This applies to love as well as to 
patriotism and religion. If you want the colo- 
nel to despise you, stick a flag in your tunic. 
If you want the padre to treat you with con- 
tempt, give him a letter to censor full of pious 
rubbish; if you want to make Parker sick, 
weep over a photograph. They spend their 
youth hardening their skins and their hearts. 
They fear neither physical blows nor the blows 

64 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

of fate. They look upon exaggeration as the 
worst of vices, and coldness as a sign of aris- 
tocracy. When they are very miserable, they 
smile. When they are very happy, they say 
nothing at all. And au fond John Bull is ter- 
ribly sentimental, which explains everything." 
" All that is perfectly true, Aurelle," said 
Parker, " but you must not say it. The doc- 
tor is a confounded Irishman who cannot hold 
his tongue." 

Upon which, the doctor and Major Parker 
began a discussion on the Irish question in 
their usual amusingly sarcastic manner. The 
colonel looked in his box of records for 
' When Irish eyes are smiling," then wisely 
and courteously interrupted them. 

" And so, Aurelle," concluded Major Par- 
ker, "you see us poor Englishmen searching 
hard for the solution of a problem when there 
isn't one. You may think that the Irish want 
certain definite reforms, and that they will be 
happy and contented the day they get them; 
but not at all. What amuses them is discus- 
sion itself, plotting in theory. They play with 
the idea of Home Rule; if we gave it them, 
the game would be finished and they would in- 
vent another, probably a more dangerous one." 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 65 

" Go to Ireland after the War, messiou," 
said the colonel, " it's an extraordinary coun- 
try. Every one is mad. You can commit the 
worst crimes it doesn't matter. Nothing 

" The worst crimes? " said Aurelle. " Oh, 
I say, sir!" 

" Oh, yes, anything you like the most un- 
heard-of things. You can go out hunting in 
brown breeches, fish in your neighbour's sal- 
mon river nothing will happen; no one will 
take the smallest notice of you." 

"I do believe," said Aurelle, "that I am 
beginning to understand the Irish question." 

" I will finish your education," said the doc- 
tor. " A year before the War a Liberal M.P. 
who was visiting Ireland said to an old peas- 
ant, c Well, my friend, we are soon going to 
give you Home Rule! ' * God save us, your 
honour,' said the man, * do not do that.' 
' What? ' said the astonished Member. ' You 
don't want Home Rule now?' 'Your hon- 
our,' said the man, ' I'll tell you. You are a 
good Christian, your honour? It's to heaven 
you want to go? So do I, but we do not want 
to go there to-night.' " 


CHOBUS : " What, Jupiter not so strong as these 

goddesses ? " 
PROMETHEUS : " Yes, even he cannot escape destiny." 

WEN young Lieutenant Warburton, 
emporarily commanding B Com- 
pany of the Lennox Highlanders, 
took over his trench, the captain he came to 
relieve said to him: 

' This part is not too unhealthy; they are 
only thirty yards off, but they are tame 
Bodies. All they ask is to be left alone." 

" We will wake things up a bit," said War- 
burton to his men, when the peaceable warrior 
had departed. 

When wild beasts are too well fed, they 
become domesticated; but a few well-directed 
rockets will make them savage again. In vir- 
tue of this principle, Warburton, having pro- 
vided himself with a star shell, instead of send- 
ing it straight up, fired it horizontally towards 
the German trenches. 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 67 

A distracted Saxon sentry cried, " Liquid- 
fire attack! " The Boche machine-guns began 
to bark. Warburton, delighted, replied with 
grenades. The enemy called the artillery to 
its assistance. A telephone call, a hail of 
shrapnel, and immediate reprisals by the Brit- 
ish big guns. 

The next day the German communique 
said : " An attack by the British under cover 

of liquid-fire at H was completely checked 

by the combined fire of our infantry and 

0275 Private Scott, H. J., who served his 
King and country under the strenuous War- 
burton, disapproved heartily of his officer's 
heroic methods. Not that he was a coward, 
but the War had taken him by surprise when 
he had just married a charming girl, and, as 
Captain Gadsby of the Pink Hussars says, " a 
married man is only half a man." Scott 
counted the days he spent in the trenches, and 
this one was the first of ten, and his chief was 

The god who guards lovers intervened the 
next day by the simple means of a scrap of 
paper asking for a man from the regiment, 
mechanic by trade, to look after a machine 

68 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

a t p for disinfecting clothes. P - was 

a pretty little town at least eight miles from 
the front line, rather deserted by the inhabi- 
tants on account of marmites, but all the same 
a safe and comfortable retreat for a troglodyte 
of the trenches. 

0275 Private Scott, mechanic by trade, put 
his name down. His lieutenant abused him; 
his colonel recommended him; and his general 
nominated him. An old London omnibus 
painted a military grey took him away to his 
new life, far from Warburton and his perils. 

The machine which Scott had to look after 
was in the yard of a college, an old building 
covered with ivy; and Abbe Hoboken, the 
principal, received him, when he arrived, as 
if he were a general. 

"Are you a Catholic, my son?" he asked 
him in the English of the college. 

Luckily for Scott, he did not understand, 
and answered vaguely: 

" Yes, sir." 

This involuntary renunciation of the Scotch 
Presbyterian Church procured him a room 
belonging to a mobilized Belgian professor 
and a bed with sheets. 

Now, at that very moment, Hauptmann 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 69 

Reineker, who commanded a German battery 
of heavy artillery at Paschendaele, was in a 
very bad temper. 

The evening post had brought him an am- 
biguous letter from his wife in which she men- 
tioned too often, and with an affectation of 
indifference, a wounded officer of the Guards, 
whom she had been nursing for several days. 

During the night, he surveyed his gun- 
emplacements on the outskirts of a wood, then 
he said suddenly: 

' Wolfgang, have you any shells avail- 

"Yes, sir." 

" How many? " 

" Three." 

" Good! Wake up Theresa's crew." 

He then verified his calculations by his map. 

The men, half awake, loaded the enormous 
gun. Reineker gave the order, and, shaking 
up everyone and everything, the shell started 
forth, hurtling through the night. 

0275 Private Scott, then, who adored his 
wife and had accepted a post without honour 
for her sake, was sleeping peacefully in the 
bedroom of a mobilized Belgian professor: and 
Captain Reineker, whose wife no longer loved 

7 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

him, and whom he mistrusted, was striding 
furiously up and down amongst the frozen 
woods, and these two circumstances, widely 
apart from one another, were developed inde- 
pendently in an indifferent world. 

Now the calculations of Reineker, like most 
calculations, went wrong. He was 400 yards 
out. His landmark was the church. From 
the church to the college was 400 yards. A 
light wind increased the deviation by 20 yards, 
and from that moment the Reineker and the 
Scott situation began to have points in com- 
mon. At this particular point the chest of 
0275 Private Scott received the full force of 
the 305 shell, and he was blown into a thou- 
sand bits, which, amongst other things, put an 
end to the Scott situation. 


"The ideal of the English Church has been to 
provide a resident gentleman for every parish in 
the Kingdom, and there have been worse ideals." 


AURELLE, arriving for tea at the Mess, 
found only the padre repairing a magic 

" Hullo, messiou," he said, " very glad to 
see you. I am getting my lantern ready for 
a sporting sermon to the men of B Company 
when they come out of the trenches." 

'What, padre, you preach sermons now 
with a magic lantern? " 

"My boy, I am trying to make the men 
come; there are too many who keep away. I 
know very well that the regiment has a good 
many Presbyterians, but if you could see the 
Irish regiments not a man misses going to 
Mass. Ah, messiou, the Catholic padres have 
more influence than we have. I ask myself, 

why? I go every day to the trenches, and 


72 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

even if the men think me an old fool they 
might at least recognize that I am a sports- 


" The regiment is very fond of you, padre. 
But, if you don't mind my saying so, I think 
that Catholic priests have a special influence. 
Confession has something to do with it, but 
their vow of celibacy more, because, in a sort 
of way, it makes them different from other 
people. Even the doctor tones down his best 
stories when Father Murphy dines with us." 

" But, my boy, I love O'Grady's stories ; 
I am an old soldier and a man of the world. 
When I was shooting in Africa a negro queen 
made me a present of three young negresses." 


" Oh, I let them go the same day, which 
annoyed them somewhat. But I don't see 
why, after that, I need play Mrs. Grundy in 
the Mess." 

One of the orderlies brought some boiling 
water, and the padre asked Aurelle to make 
the tea. 

' When I was married not that way, mes- 
siou; it's curious that no Frenchman can make 
tea. Always warm the teapot first, my boy; 
you cannot make good tea with a cold teapot." 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 73 

1 You were talking about your wedding, 

" Yes, I wanted to tell you how indignant 
all these Pharisees were, who want me to be- 
have like a prude with young people, when I 
merely wanted to be reasonable. When I 
was going to be married, I naturally had to 
ask one of my colleagues to perform the cere- 
mony. After having settled the important 
points, I said to him, ' In the Marriage Serv- 
ice of the Church of England there is one 
passage which I consider absolutely indecent. 
Yes, yes, I know quite well that it is what 
St. Paul said. Well, probably in his time he 
had a perfect right to say such things, and 
they were adapted to the manners and cus- 
toms of the Corinthians, but they are not 
meant for the ears of a young girl from Aber- 
deen in 1906. My fiancee is innocent, and I 
will not have her shocked.' The young man, 
a worldly-minded little curate, went and com- 
plained to the bishop, who sent for me and 
said haughtily, 'So it is you who are taking 
upon yourself to forbid the reading of the 
Epistle to the Corinthians? I would have 
you know that I am not the man to put up 
with nonsense of this sort.' ' All right,' I re- 

74 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

plied, ' I would have you know that I am not 
the man to put up with an insult to my wife. 
If this fellow insists on reading the passage, 
I shall say nothing in the church, out of re- 
spect for the sacred edifice, but I promise 
you that after the ceremony I shall box his 


" Well, messiou, the bishop looked at me 
carefully to see if I was in earnest. Then 
he remembered my campaign in the Trans- 
vaal, the negro Queen, and the dangers of a 
scandal, and he answered me with unction, 
* I do not see after all that the passage that 
shocks you is absolutely essential to the mar- 
riage ceremony.' ' 

Dr. O'Grady here came in and asked for a 
cup of tea. 

" Who made this tea?" he demanded. 
" You, Aurelle? How much tea did you 
put in?" 

" One spoonful for each cup." 

" Now listen to an axiom one spoonful 
for each cup and then one for the pot. It is 
curious that no Frenchman knows how to 
make tea." 

Aurelle changed the subject. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 75 

" The padre was telling me about his wed- 

" A padre ought not to be married," said 
the doctor. ' You know what St. Paul said, 
4 A married man seeks to please his wife and 
not God.' " 

" You have put your foot in it now," said 
Aurelle. " Don't talk to him about St. Paul; 
he has just been strafing him badly." 

" Excuse me," said the padre, " I only 
strafed a bishop." 

" Padre," said the doctor, " judge not " 

" Oh, I know," said the padre, " the Master 
said that, but He did not know any bishops." 
Then he returned to his old subject. " Tell 
me, O'Grady, you are Irish; why have the 
Catholic chaplains more influence than we? " 

" Padre," said the doctor, " listen to a par- 
able. It is your turn. A man had commit- 
ted a murder. He was not suspected, but 
remorse made him restless and miserable. 
One day, as he was passing an Anglican 
church, it seemed to him that the secret would 
be easier to bear if he could share it with some 
one else, so he entered and asked the vicar to 
hear his confession. 

76 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" The vicar was a very well brought up 
young man, and had been at Eton and Oxford, 
Enchanted with this rare piece of luck, he 
said eagerly, ' Most certainly, open your heart 
to me; you can talk to me as if I were your 
father ! ' The other began : ' I have killed a 
man.' The vicar sprang to his feet. ' And 
you come here to tell me that ? Horrible mur- 
derer! I am not sure that it is not my duty 
as a citizen to take you to the nearest police 
station. In any case it is my duty as a gen- 
tleman not to keep you a moment longer un- 
der my roof.* 

"And the man went away. A few miles 
farther on he saw a Roman Catholic church. 
A last hope made him enter, and he knelt 
down behind some old women who were wait- 
ing by the confessional. When his turn came 
he could just distinguish the priest praying in 
the shadows, his head in his hands. * Father,' 
he said, ' I am not a Catholic, but I should 
like to confess to you.' ' I am listening, my 
son.' ' Father, I have committed murder.' 

" He awaited the effect of this terrible rev- 
elation. In the austere silence of the church 
the voice of the priest said simply, * How many 
times, my son? ' 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 77 

" Doctor," said the padre, " you know that 
I am Scotch. I can only take in a story a 
week after I hear it." 

" That one will take you longer, padre," 
said the doctor. 


SW. TARKINGTON, an officer of 
fifty-three, honorary lieutenant and 
quartermaster, was possessed of a vain 
but keen desire to win one more ribbon be- 
fore retiring. The laws of nature and eight- 
een years of good conduct had given him the 
South African medal and the long service 
ribbon. But with a little luck even an honor- 
ary lieutenant may pick up a Military Cross 
if the bullets fall in the right place. That is 
why Tarkington was always to be found in 
dangerous corners where he had no business, 
and that is why, on the day Loos was taken, 
he wandered with his rheumatic old joints over 
the soaking battlefield and carried in eighteen 
wounded men on his back. But he met no 
general and no one knew anything about it, 
except the wounded, who have no influence. 
From there the regiment was sent to the 
north and went into the line in the Ypres 
salient. There existed, no doubt, excellent 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 79 

sentimental and military reasons for defend- 
ing this piece of ground, but as a winter resi- 
dence it left much to be desired. Tarkington 
did not fear the danger shells were part of 
the day's work but his rheumatism feared the 
water, and the rain falling incessantly on the 
greasy clay made a damp and icy paste which 
no doctor would recommend for the oiling of 
old joints. Tarkington, whose painfully swol- 
len feet now made the shortest march a Chi- 
nese torture, finally realized that he must ap- 
ply to be sent to hospital. 

" It's just my luck," he said to his con- 
fidant, the sergeant-major. " I have the pain 
without the wound." 

So he went off limping and swearing to find 
the colonel in his dug-out, and told him of the 
state of his legs. 

The colonel was in a bad temper that morn- 
ing. A communication from the headquarters 
of the division had pointed out to him that the 
proportion of trench feet in his regiment had 
reached 3.6 per cent., whereas the average of 
the corps was only 2.7. And would he take 
the necessary precautions to reduce his per- 
centage in the future? 

The necessary precautions had been taken; 

8o The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

he had sent for the doctor and given him the 

" And see here, O'Grady. You may have 
bronchitis, sore throats and gastric enteritis, 
but I do not want any more trench feet for 
three days." 

You may imagine how Tarkington was re- 
ceived when he came to exhibit his paralysed 

"Now that's the limit. I send down an 
officer for trench feet? Read, Tarkington, 
read, and do you imagine I am going to trans- 
form 3.5 into 3.6 to please you? Look up, 
my friend, General Routine Orders No. 324 
' Trench Feet result from a contraction of 
the superficial arteries with the consequence 
that the skin no longer being nourished dies 
and mortifies.' Therefore, all you have to do 
is to watch your arteries. Tarkington, I am 
extremely sorry, old man, but that is all I 
can do for you." 

" Just my luck, said the old man to his 
friend the sergeant-major. " I have thirty- 
seven years' service; I have never been ill; and 
when, for the first time in my life, I ask for 
sick leave, Jtjiappens on the very same day 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 81 

that headquarters have strafed the colonel over 
that very subject." 

His feet became red, then blue, and had be- 
gun to turn black when the colonel went away 
on leave. The command in his absence was 
taken over by Major Parker, who, being the 
second son of a peer, paid small attention to 
remarks from the brigade. He saw the dis- 
tress of the unfortunate Tarkington, and sent 
him to the field hospital, where they decided 
to send him to England. It seemed that 
Tarkington was not the kind to be acclimatized 
in the Flemish marshes. 

He was taken to B and put on board 

the hospital ship Saxonia, with the wounded, 
doctors and nurses. The port officials had 
ascertained to their annoyance the day before 
that a number of floating mines were in the 

The authorities argued over the origin of 
these mines, which the N.T.O. said were those 
of the Allies, while the M.L.O. thought they 
were the enemy's. But there was no argu- 
ment about one detail: every boat that had 
come into contact with one had been cut in 
two and sunk immediately. 

82 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

The captain of the Saooonia was convinced 
that the Channel was free from mines. He 
risked it and was blown up. 

So Tarkington jumped into the sea. As a 
good soldier, his instinct was to devote his last 
minutes to keeping calm, and he swam about 
quietly with the gas mask that he had been 
advised never to lose hanging round his neck. 

A salvage boat picked him up, unconscious, 
and he was taken to a hospital on the English 
coast. He recovered consciousness, but felt 
very ill from his immersion in the water. 

"Just like my cursed luck!" he groaned. 
" They stop me starting for a month, and 
when at last I do get off, it is in the only ship 
that has gone down for a year." 

" They are all alike," said the colonel, on 
his return from leave. " Here's a blighter 
who grumbles at having his feet in water, and 
then takes advantage of my absence to go and 
have a salt-water bath! " 

Now, a few months before, King George, 
after his accident in France, had crossed the 
Channel on board the Saoconia. The fate of 
the ship naturally interested His Majesty, 
who came to see the survivors, and, as Tark- 
ington was the only officer, he had the ines- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 83 

timable privilege of quite a long conversation 
with the King. The result of this was that a 
few days afterwards a regiment " somewhere 
in France " received a memorandum from gen- 
eral headquarters asking for a statement of 
the services of Tarkington, S. W. 

The memorandum being accompanied by 
certain verbal comments on the subject of " a 
very distinguished personage " by an officer in 
a red-banded gold-peaked cap, the colonel 
wrote nice things which he had never said to 
him of Tarkington, S. W., and the sergeant- 
major gave details of the brilliant conduct of 
the quartermaster at Loos. 

The London Gazette a fortnight later re- 
capitulated these exploits in a supplement to 
the list of awards and honours, and Tarking- 
ton, honorary captain, M.C., meditating on his 
fate, found the world not such a bad place 
after all. 


ATMIE first encounter that the brigade 
had with the village was not 

The village looked distrustfully on the bri- 
gade, with its bare knees and its language like 
the rolling of a drum. The brigade found the 
village short of estaminets and pretty girls. 
The people of Hondezeele bewailed the de- 
parture of a division of London Territorials, 
with their soft voices and full pockets, and 
wherever Aurelle went they did nothing but 
sing the praises of these sons of their adoption. 

"Your Scotchmen, we know them. We 
cannot understand what they say and my lit- 
tle girls can speak English." 

"Scotch Promenade no bon!" said the 
little girls. 

" I had the general's chauffeur here," went 
on the old woman, " a nice boy, sir. Billy, 
they called him. He washed up for me, and 
pleasant spoken, too, and good manners. An 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 85 

officers' Mess? Certainly not. I can make 
more selling fried potatoes and beer to the 
boys, and even eggs, although they cost me 
threepence each." 

" Fried potatoes, two painnies a plate, aigs 
and bacon, one franc," chorused the little girls. 

Aurelle went on to the next house, where 
other old women mourned other Billys, 
Harrys, Gingers, and Darkies. 

One stout lady explained that noise gave 
her palpitations; another, quite seventy-five, 
that it was not proper for a girl living alone. 

At last he found a corpulent lady whom he 
overwhelmed with such eloquent protestations 
that she could not get in a word. The next 
morning, he sent her the orderlies with the 
plate and crockery, and at lunch-time brought 
along Parker and O'Grady. The servants 
were waiting for them at the door. 

" Madame is a regular witch, sir. She's a 
proper fury, that's what she is, sir." 

" Madame " welcomed them with confused 

"Ah! bien merci! Ah! bien merci! How 
I have regretted having agreed to have you. 
I have not had a wink of sleep with my hus- 
band abusing me. He nearly beat me, mon- 

86 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

sieur. Oh, don't touch that ! I forbid you to 
enter my clean kitchen. Wipe your feet, and 
take those boxes off there! " 

" Put the boxes in the dining-room," or- 
dered Aurelle, to conciliate her. 

" Thank you! Put your dirty boxes in my 
dining-room, with my beautiful table and my 
fine dresser ! I should think so, indeed ! " 

" But, in heaven's name, madame," said 
Aurelle, quietly, " where shall I put them? " 

He half opened a door at the end of the 

"Will you kindly leave that door alone! 
My lovely salon, where I do not even go my- 
self for fear of making it dirty ! And, besides, 
I have had enough of your Mess, I'm about 
tired of it." 

A little later, Aurelle went into Madame 
Lemaire's, the draper's, to buy some chocolate. 
She had relegated all her pre-war trade to a 
corner of the shop, and now sold, like the rest 
of the village, Quaker Oats, Woodbine ciga- 
rettes, and post-cards with the words : " From 
your Soldier Boy." 

While she was serving him, Aurelle espied 
behind the shop a charming, bright little apart- 
ment, decorated with plates on the wall, and a 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 87 

clean cloth, with green and white squares, on 
the table. He strolled carelessly towards the 
door. Madame Lemaire looked suspiciously 
at him and folded her arms across her enor- 
mous bust. 

"Would you believe, madame, that there 
are in this village people so unpatriotic as to 
refuse to take in officers, who do not know 
where to eat their meals? " 

"Is it possible?" said Madame Lemaire, 

He told her who they were. 

"Ah, the carpenter's wife!" said Madame 
Lemaire, turning up her nose in disgust. " I 
am not surprised. They come from Moeve- 
kerke, and the people of Moevekerke are all 

" But it seems to me," insinuated Aurelle 
gently, " that you have a room here that would 

just do." 


A week later the village and the brigade 
were tasting the pure joys of the honeymoon. 
In each house a Jack, a Ginger or a Darkey 
helped to wash up, called the old lady Granny, 
and joked with the girls. The London Ter- 
ritorials were quite forgotten. At night, in 

88 The Silence of Colonel. Bramble 

the barns, beribboned bagpipes accompanied 
the monotonous dances. 

Aurelle had lodged the padre at Madame 
Potiphar's, a lively young widow to whom the 
divisions, billeted in turn in the village, had 
handed on this nickname, like a local password. 

The virtue of the padre, which had protected 
him against the solid charms of three young 
negresses, feared nothing from the manoeuvres 
of a village Potiphar. 

Parker and O'Grady shared a large room 
in the inn. They called the publican and his 
wife Papa and Mamma. Lucie and Berthe, 
the daughters of the house, taught them 
French. Lucie was six feet high; she was 
pretty, slender, and fair. Berthe was more 
substantial and remarkably good-natured. 
These two fine Flemish girls, honest without 
prudishness, greedy of gain, lacking in culture 
but not in shrewdness, were the admiration 
of Major Parker. 

Although their father was in a fair way to 
making a fortune by selling the Tommies 
English beer made in France, they never 
thought of asking him for money for their 
clothes or of making a servant work in their 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 89 

" One ought to be able to fight when one 
leaves such women at home," said the major 

The father was the same sort. He de- 
scribed to Aurelle the death of his son, a splen- 
did boy, three times mentioned in despatches. 
He talked of him with a pride and resigna- 
tion truly admirable. 

Aurelle advised the publican, if he had a 
few hundred francs to spare, to put them in 
the War Loan. 

" I have already put in fifty thousand 
francs," said the old man. " I shall wait a 
little now." 

The whole village was rich. 

Colonel Bramble gave two sous one day to 
Madame Lemaire's son, an urchin of five 
or six. 

1 To buy some sweets with," Aurelle told 

" Oh, no, I don't care for them." 
' What will you do with your sous, then? " 

" Put them in my money-box till I have got 
enough to get a deposit book in the Savings 
Bank; then, when I am grown up, I shall buy 
some land." 

That evening Aurelle repeated this to Lucie 

9O The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

and Berthe, thinking it would amuse them. 
He soon found out that no one was amused: 
jokes about money were sacrilege. The pub- 
lican related a little moral story to make this 

" When I was small," he said, " I often used 
to go on messages into the town for Monsieur 
le cure, and each time he gave me two sous, 
which I took to my father. But after a time, 
Monsieur le cure made old Sophie, his servant, 
send me on his commissions and she never gave 
me my two sous. My father, who asked me 
for them, was very indignant. He consulted 
my grandfather, and the whole family were 
called in one evening to discuss the matter. 

" My father said, ' The child cannot go and 
complain to Monsieur le cure, because if it is 
he who has stopped the two sous he might be 
offended.' * And if it is old Sophie who has 
diddled the child out of it she would box his 
ears,' said my mother. My grandfather, who 
was no fool, hit upon the best way. He said 
to me, ' You will go and make your confession 
to Monsieur le cure. You will tell him that 
you have sinned by getting angry with old 
Sophie because she sent you to the town with- 
out giving you anything,' 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 91, 

" It was a great success. ' What/ said the 
cure. ' The old wretch ! She charged me for 
them every time. Release me from the secret 
of the confessional and I will give her a good 
talking-to ! ' I remembered that her hand was 
heavy and I did not release him ; but in future 
he always sent me himself." 

The schoolmistress from Lille, who pos- 
sessed the only piano in the village, explained 
to Aurelle that she had had to cut out of her 
lesson the whole chapter on economy and 
thrift, substituting a lesson on generosity. A 
little girl of eight then said to her, " I can 
never do that, mademoiselle. My mother is 
mean, and I am sure I shall be meaner than 

Meanwhile the Highlanders were turning 
the King's shillings into glasses of beer, and 
were showering on these economical little girls 
embroidered aprons, sugar-plums and post- 
cards, with " From Your Soldier Boy " on 
them, price ninepence. 

The plump and active mothers of these nice 
little Flemish girls sold the aprons and post- 

" As, messiou," said Colonel Bramble, " be- 
fore the War we used to talk about frivolous 

92 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

France; now it is stern and prudent France." 
" Yes," added the doctor, " the French are 
hard and severe on themselves. I begin to 
understand the Boche who said, ' Man does 
not aspire to happiness, only Englishmen.' 
There is, among your peasants of the north, an 
admirable voluntary asceticism." 

" Did you ever see, messiou," said the padre, 
" in our country, before the War, the French- 
man of the music-hall? The little fellow with 
the black beard, who gesticulates and ha- 
rangues? I believed it, messiou, and never 
pictured these devout and industrious vil- 

" I like to see them on Sunday morning," 
said the major, " when the bell for Mass starts 
ringing, and they all come out of their houses 
together, old men, women and children, as if 
they were going to a theatre. Ah, messiou, 
why didn't you tell us all about this before 
the War?" 

' The reason is," said Aurelle, " that we 
didn't know it ourselves." 


ORION'S belt rose higher in the wintry 
sky; the roads were frozen hard. The 
mail vans overflowed more and more 
every day with enormous quantities of pud- 
dings and Christmas cards, and the festive sea- 
son recalled the joys of life to the division and 
the village. 

The preparations for the Christmas dinner 
occupied Aurelle and the padre for some time. 
The latter found a turkey worthy of the royal 
table at a farm; Aurelle hunted from house 
to house for chestnuts; Parker attended him- 
self to the cooking, and mixed a salad of which 
he was very proud, but the colonel examined 
it long and doubtfully. As for the doctor, he 
was sent off with Aurelle to Bailleul to buy 
some champagne, and insisted on sampling 
several different brands, which inspired hini 
to give vent to some strange doctrines on 
things in general on the way home. 

He obtained permission to invite his friends 

94 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Berthe and Lucie to come in at the end of din- 
ner to drink a bumper of champagne in the 
Mess, and when they entered in their Sunday 
dresses, the colonel played " Destiny Waltz," 
speed 61. The orderlies had hung a great 
bunch of mistletoe over the door, and the girls 
asked ingenuously if it was not the custom in 
England to kiss under the mistletoe. 

" Oh, certainly," said the doctor, and with 
his hands behind his back, he pecked Berthe 
on the cheek which she turned towards him. 
Parker, equally nervous, did the same to 
pretty Lucie, and Aurelle gave them both a 
good hug in the French way. 

* That's fine, mademoiselle? " said the lit- 
tle doctor. 

" Yes," said Lucie with a sigh. " We wish 
it was always Christmas." 

" Oh, but why? " said the doctor. 
' Think how dull it will be for us after the 
War," replied Berthe, "when you are all 
gone! Before, one did not think of it one 
saw no one one worked, one knew no better, 
but now, without the boys, the village will be 
empty indeed. My sister and I will not stay 
here. We will go to Paris or London." 

" Oh, but that's a pity," said the doctor. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 95 

" No, no," said Aurelle, " you will just get 
married. You will marry rich farmers, you 
will be very busy with your beasts and your 
chickens and you will forget all about us." 

" It's easy to say ' get married,' " observed 
Berthe, " but it takes two for that. And if 
there are not enough men for all the girls we 
shall probably get left in the lurch." 

" Every man will have several wives," said 
Aurelle. " You will be much happier ; with 
one husband between you two, you will only 
have half the housework to do." 

' I do not think I should like it," said Lucie, 
who was very refined. 

But the padre, to whom the doctor had just 
treacherously translated Aurelle's cynical pro- 
posals, indignantly protested. 

" You ought not to criticize polygamy, 
padre," said the doctor. "Re-read your 
Bible. What have you to say about old 
Laban, who, having sold his two daughters 
to the same man, payable monthly for four- 
teen years, gave the purchaser in addition two 
waiting-maids as a bonus ? " 

" But," said the padre, " I am not respon- 
sible for the actions of a doubtful patriarch. 
I have no sympathy with Laban." 

96 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" No more have I," said Aurelle. " This 
Dufayel of marriage has always profoundly 
disgusted me, but more on account of his mat- 
rimonial methods than for having gone in for 
the polygamy natural to his tribe. Moreover, 
is the number of women to be apportioned to 
one man a question of morals? It appears 
to me to be a question of arithmetic. If there 
are nearly as many women as men, monogamy 
is the rule; if for some reason the number of 
women is increased, polygamy is perhaps bet- 
ter for the general welfare." 

The two girls, who understood this conver- 
sation much less than the " promenade " and 
the " na poo " of the Tommies, went up to the 
colonel, who talked to them paternally in his 
gruff way and got the " Caruso " record for 
them out of its pink cover. 

' You have some weird ideas about animal 
psychology, Aurelle," said the doctor. " If 
you have observed nature, you would have 
proved, on the contrary, that the question of 
the numbers of mates is certainly not a ques- 
tion of arithmetic. With gnats, ten females 
are born to one male. Now gnats are not 
polygamous. Nine out of those females die 
spinsters. It is only the old maids who bite 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 97 

us, from which one sees that celibacy engen- 
ders ferocity among insects as well as among 


" I have known some charming old maids," 
said Aurelle. 

"Indeed!" said the doctor. "But, how- 
ever that may be, the number of married pairs 
varies simply according to the way the spe- 
cies feed. Rabbits, Turks, sheep, artists, and, 
generally speaking, all herbivorous creatures 
are polygamous; while foxes, Englishmen, 
wolves, bankers, and, generally speaking, all 
carnivorous animals are monogamists. That 
is because of the difficulty which carnivorous 
animals find in rearing their young until they 
are strong enough to kill for themselves. As 
for polyandry, it occurs in wretched countries 
like Thibet, where several men must unite 
forces to keep one wife and her progeny." 

The howls of Caruso rendered all conversa- 
tion impossible for a minute, then Aurelle said 
to Lucie: " The other girls in the village will 
perhaps find it difficult to get husbands, it is 
true, but you and your sister need not worry; 
you are the prettiest, and you will soon have 
the richest father. You will have fine mar- 
riage portions." 

98 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" Yes, that's true. Perhaps they will marry 
us for our money," said Berthe, who was 

" I should not care to be married for my 
money," said Lucie. 

"Oh, strange creature!" said the doctor, 
" you would like to be loved for your face 
alone, that is to say, for the position in space 
of the albuminoids and fatty molecules placed 
there by the working of some Mendelian he- 
redity, but you would dislike to be loved 
for your fortune, to which you have contrib- 
uted by your labour and your domestic vir- 

Berthe regarded the doctor nervously and 
reminded her sister that they had some glasses 
to wash before going to bed; so they emptied 
their bumpers and departed. 

After a restful silence, Major Parker asked 
Aurelle to explain the institution of the mar- 
riage dot, and, when he had grasped it, indig- 
nantly replied: 

" What? A man receives this splendid gift, 
a pretty woman, and he exacts money before 
accepting her? But what you tell me is mon- 
strous, Aurelle, and dangerous. Instead of 
marrying beautiful and good women who 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 99 

would have beautiful and good children, you 
marry ugly, quarrelsome creatures provided 
with a cheque-book." 

" ' He who has found a good wife has found 
great happiness,' " quoted the padre, * ' but a 
quarrelsome woman is like a roof that lets in 
the rain.' " 

" It is wrong to suppose the children of love- 
matches better made than others," interrupted 
the doctor, becoming rather warlike, obviously 
owing to champagne. " Oh, I know the old 
theory: every man chooses his natural com- 
plement, and thus rears children which revert 
to the average type of the race. Big men 
like little women, large noses like little snub- 
noses, and very feminine men fall in love with 

" As a matter of fact, a nervous, short- 
sighted, intellectual man marries a pedantic, 
nervous, short-sighted woman because their 
tastes are similar. Good riders make ac- 
quaintance with girls who hunt, and marry 
them for their sporting tastes. 

"So, far from reverting to the average type, 
love-matches tend to exaggerate the differ- 
ences. And then is it desirable for selection 
to operate? There are very few really bril- 

ioo The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

liant men who have not had at least one mad- 
man among their ancestors. The modern 
world has been founded by three epileptics- 
Alexander, Julius Cgesar and Luther, without 
mentioning Napoleon, who was not altogether 
well balanced." 

" In a thousand men of genius, how many 
mad relations? " asked the colonel. 

" I can't tell you, sir," said the doctor. 

c You can talk nonsense to your heart's con- 
tent, doctor," said Major Parker. "But as 
far as I am concerned, if I ever marry, I shall 
only marry a very pretty woman. What's the 
name of that charming cinema actress we saw 
together at Hazebrouck, Aurelle?" 

" Napierkowska, sir." 

"Oh, yes. Well, if I knew her I would 
marry her at once. And I am sure that she 
is if anything better and more intelligent than 
the average woman." 

" My friend Shaw," said the doctor, " says 
that to desire to be perpetually in the society 
of a pretty woman, until the end of one's days, 
is as if, because one likes good wine, one wished 
always to have one's mouth full of it." 

" Rather a flimsy argument," observed the 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 101 

major. " For surely that is better than hav- 
ing it always full of bad wine." 

"Anyhow," the doctor replied, "women 
who exhibit more surely than us the underly- 
ing instincts of mankind are far from bearing 
out your theory; I know very few who make 
a point of marrying a good-looking man." 

' Well, do you know the story about Fra- 
zer? " said the major. 

"Which Frazer?" said the colonel. " G.R. 
of the 60th?" 

" No, no. A. K. of the 5th Gurkhas the 
one who played polo for the regiment in 1900, 
an awfully good-looking fellow, the finest chin 
in the army." 

" Oh, I know him," said the colonel, " the 
son of old Sir Thomas. His father sold me 
a damned good pony, when I was a subaltern, 
and I only paid 200 rupees for it. Well, 
what is his story? " 

" At the beginning of 1915," said the major, 
" Frazer, who was crossing London on his way 
home on leave, went to the theatre one evening 
alone. Towards the end of the first act, he 
felt vaguely that some one was staring at him. 
He looked up and saw a woman in a box look- 

102 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ing at him. But, owing to the darkness of the 
theatre, he could not distinguish her features. 

" In the interval, he tried to see her, but 
she had withdrawn to the back of her box. 
During the next two acts she looked at him 
fixedly. Frazer, decidedly intrigued, was 
waiting at the exit of the theatre, when a mag- 
nificent footman approached him, saying, ' A 
lady wishes to speak to you, sir,' and led him 
to the door of a carriage which had stopped 
in a side street. 

" ' You do not know me, Captain Frazer/ 
said a very pretty voice, 'but I know you; 
have you anything to do this evening or will 
you come to supper with me?' Frazer did 
what we should all have done." 

" He ran away? " said the padre. 

" He got into the carriage," said Parker. 
" He was asked to allow himself to be blind- 
folded. When the bandage was taken off he 
found himself in a charming room, alone with 
the fair unknown, who was decollete e and 
wearing a mask, and who had the most beau- 
tiful shoulders in the world! " 

" Is this by Dumas pere or R. L. Steven- 
son? " asked Aurelle. 

" It is a story of what actually happened in 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 103 

January, 1915, and was fold me by a man who 
never lies," said Major Parker. c The house 
was in silence. No servant appeared, but 
Frazer, delighted, was offered by the unknown 
herself what you French call, I believe, bon 
souper, bon gite et le reste. 

" At break of day, she bandaged his eyes 
again. He told her how much he had enjoyed 
himself and asked her when he could see her 
again. ' Never,' she replied, * and I take it 
that I have your word of honour as a gentle- 
man and a soldier that you will never try to 
find me again. But in one year from now, 
to the day, go back to the same theatre where 
we met, and there will, perhaps, be a letter 
for you.' Then she saw him into the car- 
riage again, and asked him to keep his eyes 
blindfolded for ten minutes: when he took 
off the bandage, he was in Trafalgar 

" Frazer naturally moved heaven and earth 
to get leave in January, 1916, and on the eve- 
ning of the anniversary of his adventure ap- 
peared at the box office of the theatre and 
asked for a stall. ' Have you by any chance 
a letter for me? ' he said, giving his name. The 
clerk handed him an envelope, and Frazer, 

IO4 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

eagerly opening it, read this short line: ' It is 
a fine boy. Thank you.' ' 

' What is still more strange," said the doc- 
tor with sarcasm. " is that another good-look- 
ing lad told me the same story some time be- 
fore the war, and that that time he was the 
hero of it." 

" Then this lady must have several chil- 
dren," said the colonel. 



OU, pretty shopgirl, whose fresh charm 

Was once engrossing, 
And you, who kept, with strong bare arm, 

The level-crossing, 

And you, the Teacher, you who went 

In dress less candid, 
Or, soft-eyed, o'er your keyboard leant, 

And slender-handed; 

Fair Baker's wife, who had our love, 

Yet counted pence 
As one who had a soul above 

Their vulgar sense; 

All you whose wayside smile could then 

So quickly chase 
The black despond of us poor men 

Those hateful days! 

Who sprawled across your open door 

And loosed their speech 
To tell of hopes and plans in store, 

Beyond their reach. . . . 

106 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

You did not always understand, 

But never mind, 
No wiser they, the glitt'ing band 

We left behind. 

No man but thinks his worth impressed 

Where he desires; 
And there, as in a mirror drest, 

Himself admires. 

And Margot, to his talk resigned, 

One ear in guile lent, 
A very Sevigne he'll find 

So she be silent. 



Hondezeele, January 19 . 

MADAME LEMAIRE has presented 
the Mess with a bottle of old brandy, 
and the doctor is in very good form 
this evening. He is the true Irish type; a 
lover of surprising epigrams. 

He says, " We owe to the Middle Ages the 
two worst inventions of humanity romantic 
love and gunpowder." Again, " The whole 
reason of this War is because the Germans 
have no sense of humour." 

But, above all, you must hear his scientific 
and precise demonstration of his favourite 
theory: " Two telegrams contrary in sense, 
and from officers equal in rank, cancel one 

January 4th. 

Rode with the colonel and Parker. How 
delicate and clear the atmosphere is in this 


io8 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

northern part of France! The colonel was 
highly indignant to hear that I have never 
been out hunting. 

" You must,, messiou, it is the only sport. 
You jump banks as high as your horse. At 
eighteen I had nearly broken my neck twice. 
It is most exciting." 

" Yes," said Parker, " one day I was gal- 
loping in a wood and a branch went into my 
right eye. It is a miracle I wasn't killed. 
Another time " 

He described how his horse fell on the top 
of him and broke two of his ribs. Then 
both of them together, certain of having con- 
vinced me: 

1 You must hunt after the War, messiou." 

January 7th. 

This morning, I do not know why, some 
French troops came through Hondezeele. 
The village and I were delighted. We like 
the shrill bagpipes, but no music in the world 
is like " Sidi-Brahim " and " Sambre-et- 

I was pleased, too, to be able to show Par- 
ker these Chasseurs a pied, as all he had seen 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 109 

of our army were old Territorials. He was 
much impressed. 

' They are as fine as the Highlanders," he 
told me. 

And then he described the Lennox as they 
were when he joined as second lieutenant in 

" I was forbidden to speak at Mess for six 
months. An excellent practice ! It taught us 
to realize how humble we were, and the respect 
due to our elders. 

" If some * swelled head ' did not conform 
to these rules, he soon found his things all 
packed up in his room, labelled for England. 
If he still refused to understand, he was called 
up before a subaltern's court-martial, and 
heard some home truths about himself. 

" It was hard, but what esprit de corps and 
what discipline those rough ways taught us. 
We shall never see a regiment again like the 
Lennox of 1914. The officer of to-day has 
seen active service, it's true, but as a matter 
of fact it is quite sufficient in war to have 
good health and no more imagination than a 
fish. It is in peace-time that one ought to 
judge a soldier." 

no The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" You remind me," said the doctor, " of the 
sergeant-major in the Guards who said: 
' How I wish the war would finish so that we 
could have real manoeuvres once more ! ' 

This evening, while the gramophone was 
raging, I forced myself to translate into 
French Rudyard Kipling's admirable poem: 
" If." 

I showed it in English to Parker whom 
it describes so well, and we talked about 
books. I made the mistake of mentioning 

" I detest Dickens," said the major. " I 
never could understand how anyone could find 
him interesting. His books are all stories of 
the lower classes and Bohemians. I do not 
want to know how they live. In the whole of 
Dickens' works there is not one gentleman. 
No, if you wish to know the chef-d'oeuvre of 
English novels read * Jorrocks.' ' 

January 13th. 

A little English telephonist who came to 
mend our apparatus said to me, " Telephones 
are like women, sir. No one really knows 
anything about them. One fine day, some- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble in 

thing goes wrong; you try to find out why, 
no good, you swear, you shake them up a bit 
and all is well." 

January 14th. 

At dinner an Irish colonel remarked: 

" I am very annoyed ; during my last leave 
I rented a house for my family, and now my 
wife writes that it is haunted. The owners 
really ought to tell one these things." 

" Perhaps they did not know it," said our 
indulgent colonel. 

" They knew it very well. When my wife 
went to complain, they got very confused, and 
ended by owning up. One of their great- 
grandmothers has walked from the drawing- 
room to her old bedroom for the last hundred 
and fifty years. They tried to excuse them- 
selves by saying she was perfectly harmless. 
That is possible, and I am quite willing to 
believe it, but it is none the less annoying for 
my wife. Do you think I can cancel my 

I here risked a sceptical remark, but the 
whole Mess jumped on me. Irish ghosts are 
scientific facts. 

ii2 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" But why do phantoms love Irish houses 
more than others? " 

" Because," said the Irish colonel, " we are 
a very sensitive race and we enter into com- 
munication with them more easily." 

And he crushed me with technical argu- 
ments on wireless telegraphy. 

January 15th. 

The colonel, having found out this morning 
that a motor-ambulance was going into Ypres, 
took me with him. In front of the hospital 
we found ourselves wedged in by a terrible 
block of waggons, under a fierce bombard- 

A horse with its carotid artery cut by a bit 
of shell, and only held up by the shafts, was 
writhing in agony close by us. The drivers 
were swearing. Nothing to do but wait pa- 
tiently in our car, shaken by explosions. 

" Dr. Johnson was right," said the colonel 
to me. " Whoever wants to be a hero ought 
to drink brandy." 

Then, as a fresh explosion made the debris 
of the ruined town in front of us tremble, 
he said: 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 113 

" Messiou, how many inhahitants were there 
in Ypres before the War? " 

January 20th. 

We are going to leave Hondezeele. The 
red-hats are getting agitated and already one 
sees the cyclists passing, the natural advance- 
guard of our migrations. 

We M^ere beginning to love this country: the 
village and the brigade, so distrustful of one 
another a month ago, had become really quite 
affectionate. But the gods are jealous. 

Brigade to march to-morrow's sky 

Will see us on the move, 
The drums and pipes will sing good-by 

To every light-o'-love. 

The Highlanders, their kilts a-swirl, 

Like eddies on the sand, 
With steadfast hymn and fiery skirl, 

Must join the devil's band. 

When Victory unveils the sun, 

Cold earth shall shrine their faith, 

But every field and farm they won 
Shall know their constant wraith. 

And in our Flemish villages . . . 

ii4 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Interrupted by the arrival of our successors, 
the Canadians, regarded by Madame Lemaire 
and her little boy with great suspicion. That 
won't last long. 


A GREAT attack was in preparation; it 
was a terrible secret jealously guarded 
by headquarters; but Aurelle was in- 
formed of it several days beforehand by the 
German communique published in the Times, 
and by Madame Lemaire's little boy, who ad- 
vised him not to repeat it. 

However, the division was soon ordered to 
occupy one of the sectors in the attack. The 
padre, optimistic as ever, already foresaw tri- 
umphant marches, but the colonel gently re- 
minded him that the objectives were simply a 
ridge, which in peace-time would be called " a 
slight undulation in the ground," and two vil- 
lages already destroyed. The real object was 
to engage the forces of the enemy, who were 
at that moment advancing in Russia. But 
this information only redoubled the enthusiasm 
of the padre. 

' You can say what you like, sir; if we hold 
this ridge they cannot hold out in the valley, 
and we shall break through their line. As for 


n6 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

the retreat of the Russians, that's capital. 
The Boche gets farther from his base, length- 
ens his lines of communications, and he's 

" He is not," said the colonel, " but he will 
be one day, and that's all that matters." 

The evening of the offensive, Aurelle re- 
ceived orders from the colonel to go and act 
as liaison officer between the headquarters of 
the division and some French batteries, which 
were reinforcing the British artillery in this 
sector. He wished the Lennox good luck and 
left them for a day. 

He spent the night in the garden of the lit- 
tle chateau where the general was living. The 
bombardment thundered on without ceasing. 
Aurelle walked up and down the paths of this 
garden, which had been pretty, but was now 
honeycombed with trenches and dug-outs, 
while camouflaged huts covered the lawns. 

Towards midnight, the rain, the classic rain 
of an offensive, began to fall in large drops. 
The interpreter took shelter in a shed with 
some chauffeurs and motor-cyclists. He al- 
ways liked to find himself among this class of 
Englishmen with their strong language and 
simple minds. These, like the rest, were good 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 117 

fellows, careless, courageous and light-hearted. 
They hummed the latest music-hall airs from 
London, showed him photographs of their 
wives, sweethearts and bahies, and asked him 
when the damned war would be over. They 
shared on this subject the perfect optimism 
of the padre. 

One of them, a little, quick-witted electri- 
cian, asked Aurelle to explain the Alsatian 
question. And so he told them about Saverne, 
the march past of the Strasburg students be- 
fore Kleber's statue, the pilgrimages of the 
Alsatians to B elf ore for the 14th of July 
Review, and about the young men who at the 
age of twenty left family and fortune to go 
to France and become soldiers. 

They told him that they could understand 
anyone loving France: it was a fine country. 
All the same there were not enough hedges in 
the landscape. But they appreciated the 
thrifty qualities of the women, the trees along 
the road, and the out-of-door cafes. They 
talked with enthusiasm about Verdun, but 
many of them had only grasped the idea of 
the Entente through Carpentier's victory in 

The day dawned; the rain was now falling 

ii8 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

in torrents ; on the lawn, the grass and soil was 
trodden into a sticky mass. Aurelle went up 
to the chateau; he met an aide-de-camp whom 
he knew and explained his orders. 

" Oh, yes," he was told. " I arranged that 
myself with the French liaison officer. If the 
telephone from the batteries happens to get 
cut, we shall have recourse to you. Go into 
the signalling room and sit down. In ten 
minutes from now," he added, " our men go 
over the top." 

The signalling room was the old winter gar- 
den. On the wall, a large-scale map of the 
trenches showed the British lines in black, and 
those of the enemy in red. At two long tables 
six telephone operators were installed. Silent 
officers with red tabs paced calmly up and 
down the room, and Aurelle thought of one 
of Major Parker's favourite remarks: "A 
gentleman is never in a hurry." 

As five o'clock struck, the general came in 
and the officers stood still and said all together : 

" Good morning, sir." 

" Good morning," said the general politely. 

He was very tall ; his carefully brushed grey 
hair, neatly parted, framed his fine features. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 119 

Gold lace shone on the red facings of his well- 
cut tunic. 

Discovering Aurelle in his corner, he very 
kindly gave him a little " Good morning " all 
to himself, and then he walked slowly, with 
his hands behind his back, between the two 
long tables of the telephonists. The noise of 
the guns had suddenly ceased, and nothing 
was heard in the room but the authoritative 
and measured step of the general. 

A muffled bell tingled ; an operator quietly 

made a note of the message on a pink form. 

" 5.5 a.m.," read the general softly, " 10th 

Brigade. Attack begun, enemy barrage not 

very effective, violent machine-gun fire." 

Then he passed the telegram to an officer, 
who stuck it on a long pin. 

' Transmit it to the corps," said the general. 
And the officer wrote on a white paper: 
"5.10 a.m. 10th Brigade reports as follows: 
Attack begun. Enemy barrage not very ef- 
fective. Violent machine-gun fire." 

He filed a carbon copy on another pin, and 
handed the original to an operator, who, in 
his turn, read it into the machine. 

Inflexibly and monotonously the white and 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

pink messages slowly accumulated. One bri- 
gade was in the enemy's first line trenches, 
the other had stopped before a concreted nest 
of machine-guns. The general reinforced 
them with details from the 3rd Brigade, then 
rang up the artillery several times to tell them 
to destroy the pill box. And these orders 
were transcribed on to the pink and white 
forms. An officer, standing before the huge 
map, carefully manoeuvred small coloured 
flags, and all this methodical agitation re- 
minded Aurelle of a large banking house on 
the Stock Exchange. 

Towards six o'clock in the morning, a Staff 
officer beckoned to him, and, leading him up 
to the map, showed him the emplacement of a 
French .155 and asked him to go and see the 
officer, and tell him to destroy at all costs a 
certain railway cutting in which one or two 
enemy machine guns were still firing. The 
telephone was no longer working. 

Outside everything was calm; it was rain- 
ing and the road was a river of yellow mud. 
The noise of the guns seemed farther off, but 
it was only an illusion, because one could see 
the wicked red light of the shells as they burst 
over the village in front of the house. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 121 

A few wounded, in hasty field-dressings, 
bleeding and muddy, were coming slowly up 
to the ambulance in small groups. Aurelle 
entered a little fir wood; the wet pine-needles 
seemed delightful walking after the mud. He 
heard the guns of the French battery quite 
close, but could not find it. He had been told : 
" Northeast corner of the wood." But where 
the devil was the northeast? All at once a 
blue uniform moved among the trees. At the 
same moment a gun went off quite close to 
him, and, turning to the right, he saw the gun- 
ners on the edge of the wood well hidden by 
some thick bushes. A sergeant-major, astride 
a chair, tunic undone, kepi pushed back, was in 
command. The men served the gun cleverly 
and without hurrying, like skilled workmen. 
One might have thought it a peaceful, open- 
air factory. 

" Sir," said one of the men, " here is an in- 

" Ah, now, perhaps, we shall find out why 
we can't get an answer from the English," 
said the sergeant-major. 

Aurelle gave him the orders, as the captain 
was at the observation post, and the lieutenant 
trying to repair the telephone. 

122 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" Bight," said the sergeant-major, a native 
of Lorraine with a quiet, sing-song voice. 
" We will demolish it for you, young man." 

He telephoned to the captain; then, having 
found the cutting on the map, began his cal- 
culations. Aurelle stayed a few moments, 
glad to find this corner of the battlefield with 
no false romance, and also to hear French 
spoken again at last. 

Then he took the path back to the chateau. 
Cutting across a meadow to find the high road, 
he approached the battle-field. A brigade of 
reinforcements was going up in line ; he passed 
it in a contrary direction, with a few wounded 
to whom he offered a little brandy. The men 
who were going up to fight looked at the 
wounded in silence. 

A shell whistled above the column ; the heads 
bent like poplars in a wind. The shell burst 
in a deserted field. Then Aurelle, having 
passed the brigade, found himself on the road 
with the informal procession of wounded men. 
They had fever, they were dirty, they were 
bloody ; but, thankful to be out of it, they hur- 
ried at the best pace they could muster towards 
the haven of white beds. 

A company of German prisoners passed, 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 123 

guarded by a few Highlanders. Their ter- 
rified eyes, like those of trained animals, 
seemed to be looking for officers to salute. 

As Aurelle arrived at the house, he saw two 
men in front of him carrying an officer on a 
stretcher. The officer evidently had some ter- 
rible wound, for his body was covered with 
dressings through which the blood had soaked, 
and was dripping slowly on to the muddy road. 

6 Yes, Aurelle, it's I," said the dying man 
in a strange voice, and Aurelle recognized 
Captain Warburton. His good-looking, merry 
face had become grave. " O'Grady will not 
send me to the Duchess' hospital this time, 
messiou," he gasped painfully. " Will you 
say good-bye to the colonel for me and let 
him write home that I did not suffer much. 
Hope that won't bother you. Thanks very 
much indeed.'.' 

Aurelle, without being able to get out a 
word, pressed the hand of this maimed boy 
who had been so fond of War, and the 
stretcher-bearers carried him gently away. 

On arriving at the chateau he found every 
one as calm as ever, but very serious. He 
gave in a report of his mission to the Staff 
officer, who thanked him absently. 

124 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" How is it going? " he asked an operator 
in a low voice. 

"All right," growled the man. "All ob- 
jectives attained, but the general killed. 
Would go himself to see why the Second 
Brigade did not come up a shell buried him 
with Major Hall." 

Aurelle thought of the grey, smooth hair and 
fine features of the general, the gold and scar- 
let of his facings all soiled by the ignoble mud 
of battles. So much easy dignity, he thought, 
so much courteous authority, and to-morrow 
carrion, which the soldiers will trample under 
foot without knowing. But already, all round 
him, they were anxiously discussing who would 
be his successor. 

In the evening, he went over to the Lennox 
with the regiment that was going to relieve 
them. The first person he saw was the doc- 
tor, who was working in a dug-out. 

" I don't think the regiment did badly," he 
said. " I have not seen the colonel yet, but 
all the men tell me he was a marvel of cour- 
age and presence of mind. It appears, mes- 
siou, that we have the record number of Ger- 
mans killed by one man. Private Kemble 
bayoneted twenty-four. Not bad, is it? " 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 125 

"No," said Aurelle, "but it's horrible. 
Have you looked at Warburton, doctor? I 
met him on the road and he seemed very bad." 

"Done for," said the doctor. "And his 
friend Gibbons died here this afternoon, both 
legs blown off." 

" Oh, Gibbons too. Poor Gibbons! Do you 
remember, doctor, his talking about his plump 
little wife? No doubt at this very moment she 
is playing tennis with her sisters in some lovely 
English garden. And the bleeding limbs of 
her husband are there, in that blanket. It's 
terrible, doctor, all this." 

"Pooh!" answered the doctor, going to 
wash his hands, which were covered with blood. 
" In three months you will see her portrait in 
the Taller i ' The beautiful widow of Captain 
Gibbons, M.C., who is shortly to be married 




ERTES, just now, dear ladies, some 

Curled juvenile, your deary, 
Is but too apt that song to hum 
Of which ye never weary 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

The while he smooths each glist'ning tress, 
With studied grace and air he, 

With amorous glance and soft address, 
Is seeking to ensnare ye. 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

Meanwhile our battered vessel rocks 

To wild wave-music eerie, 
And whistling wind our sort bemocks 

With doleful Miserere. 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

Vainly, to chase the vision pale 

Of Fate that needs no query, 
We crouch behind our bulwarks frail 

And croon in chorus dreary 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 127 

Devoted to th' infernal shades 

By ladies' light vagary, 
The dismalest refrain invades 

Our hearts in sad quandary. 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

How now ! Are ye so slight of soul, 

Of love are ye so chary, 
Already you forget the role, 

The text we never vary? 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

Bethink you of those Roman dames 

In household virtue wary, 
And, spinning wool, invoke the names 

Of Powers tutelary. 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

Can ye not, then, be such as they? 

O hearken to the prayer he 
Intones, your lover far away, 

And ill-content to share ye ! 

Fa, do, sol, re. 

For if inconstant you should prove, 

With wave and weather veer ye, 
Beware lest this soft song of love 

Should turn to Dies Irae. 

Fa, do, sol, re. 


THE Lennox Highlanders, when the bri- 
gade was relieved, were sent for six days 
to a muddy field near Dickebusch. Dr. 
O'Grady and Aurelle shared a tent, and dined 
together, the first evening, at the inn of the 
Trois Amis. c 

On their return, the stars shone brightly in 
a dark blue velvet sky. The soft moonlight 
lay on the grass of the meadows. A few tents 
in which a light was burning resembled great 
white lanterns ; round the bivouac fires, blown 
about by the wind, the men sat swearing and 

" War makes light of time," said the doctor, 
" it is eternal and unalterable. This camp 
might be Caesar's, the Tommies round their 
fires, talking of their wives and their dangers, 
their boots and their horses, like the legion- 
aries of Fabius or the veterans of the Grand 
Army. And, as in those days, on the other 
side of the hill, repose the barbarous Germans 
by their unyoked chariots." 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 129 

The burgundy of the Trois Amis inspired 
the doctor to hold forth like this. 

" This tent is six thousand years old," he 
said, " it belongs to the warlike Bedouins who 
founded the empires of Babylon and Carthage. 
The restlessness of the ancient migrating peo- 
ple inspired them with a longing for the des- 
ert every year, and sent them forth from the 
city walls on profitable raids. It is this same 
force, Aurelle, which each summer, before the 
war, covered the deserted shores of Europe 
with nomadic tents, and it is the dim recollec- 
tion of ancestral raids which, on August 1, 
1914 holiday time, Aurelle, the time of mi- 
grations incited the youngest of the barba- 
rians to let loose their Emperor on the world. 
It is an old comedy which has been played for 
two thousand years, but the public still seem 
to take an interest in it. It is because there 
is always a fresh audience." 

c You are pessimistic this evening," said 

'What do you call pessimism?" said the 
doctor, painfully pulling off his stiff boots. 
" I think that men will always have passions, 
and that they will never cease to go for one 
another at regular intervals with the most en- 

130 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ergetic means which the science of their time 
can procure for them, and the best chosen 
weapons with which to break each other's 
bones. I think that one sex will always try to 
please the other, and that from this elementary 
desire will eternally be born the need to van- 
quish rivals. With this object, nightingales, 
grasshoppers, prima donnas and statesmen 
will make use of their voices ; peacocks, niggers 
and soldiers, of bright colours; rats, deer, tor- 
toises and kings will go on fighting. All that 
is not pessimism, it is natural history! " 

While talking the doctor had got into his 
sleeping-bag, and had seized a little book from 
a shelf made out of a biscuit box. 

" Listen to this, Aurelle," said he, " and 
guess who wrote it. 

" ' My regrets about the War are unceas- 
ing, and I shall consent to admire your in- 
vincible general when I see the fight ended 
under honourable conditions. It is true that 
the brilliant successes which are your delight 
are also mine, because these victories, if we 
would use fortune wisely, will procure for us 
an advantageous peace. But if we let the mo- 
ment pass when we might appear to give peace 
rather than receive it, I much fear that this 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 1311 

splendid achievement will vanish in smoke. 
And if fate sends us reverses I tremble to 
think of the peace which will be imposed on 
the conquered by an enemy w r ho has the cour- 
age to refuse it to the conquerors? ' 

" I don't know," said Aurelle, yawning. 
" Maximilian Harden? " 

" Senator Hanno at the Senate of Carth- 
age," said the doctor triumphantly. " And 
in two thousand three hundred years some 
negro doctor, finding after the Great African 
War a speech by Lloyd George, will say, 
* These old sayings are sometimes very true.' 
Your formidable European War is about as 
important, Aurelle, as the fights between two 
ant-heaps in the corner of my garden in Ire- 

" It is much more than that to us," said 
Aurelle, " and it appears to me that the sort 
of sentiments it gives rise to are not animal. 
Do you think that ants are patriotic? " 

" Most certainly," replied the doctor, " the 
ants must be extremely patriotic. With them 
the warriors are highly fed by a race of ser- 
vitors. Every season their armies set out to 
steal the eggs of the weaker species. Work- 
ers are hatched from them, born slaves in a 

132 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

foreign country. The military citizens are 
thus delivered from the slavery of work and 
these soldiers cannot even feed themselves. 
Shut up with honey, and without their nurse- 
slaves, they die of hunger. That is what is 
called civil mobilization. And if this war lasts 
long enough, one day, Aurelle, you will see a 
new human species appear : soldiermen. They 
will be born with helmets and armour, imper- 
vious to bullets and provided with natural 
weapons; the Suffragettes will be the sexless 
slaves who will feed these warriors, while a 
few queens will, in special institutions, bring 
national infants into the world." 

Thus discoursed the doctor, in the friendly 
silence of the camp by the soft light of the 
moon; and Aurelle, who had gone to sleep, 
saw visions of enormous ants in khaki march- 
ing by, commanded by the little doctor. 


THE orderlies brought the rum, sugar, 
and boiling water. The padre began 
patience, the colonel played " Destiny 
Waltz," and Dr. O'Grady, who in times of 
peace was doctor at an asylum, talked about 

" I had the care of a rich American who 
thought he was surrounded by a belt of poi- 
soned gas," he said. " In order to save his 
life, he had a special bed made for himself sur- 
rounded by a cage of white wood. He passed 
his days in this safe shelter, dressed in nothing 
but a red bathing suit, writing a book in 
twenty thousand chapters on the life and 
works of Adam. His room had a triple door 
on which he had carved, ' Gas carriers are 
warned that there are wolf -traps inside.' He 
sent for me every day, and when I went in he 
always said, ' I have never seen any creatures 
so stupid, so wicked, so rotten, or so dense as 
English doctors.' ' 


134 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

" ' I have never seen,' " repeated the padre 
with great satisfaction, ' ' any creatures so 
stupid, so wicked, or so dense as English 
doctors.' " 

" Upon which," continued the doctor, " he 
turned his back on me, and, clothed in his red 
bathing suit, set to work again at the twenty- 
thousandth chapter on the works of Adam." 

" Here, messiou," interrupted the colonel, 
who was examining some official papers, " is 
some work for you," and he passed over to 
Aurelle a thick bundle of papers covered with 
multi-coloured seals. 

It commenced thus: 

" From the Stationmaster at B to the 

Military Superintendent of the Station at 

16 1 have the honour to inform you that 
Mademoiselle Heninghem, gate-keeper at 
Hondezeele, complains of the following facts : 
the English soldiers camped along the railway 
line are in the habit of performing their ablu- 
tions in the open air, which is a shocking sight 
for the lady in question, who, from the nature 
of her work, cannot avoid seeing them. I 
shall be obliged if you will give orders that this 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 135 

regrettable state of affairs shall be put a stop 
to as soon as possible." 



" From the Military Superintendent of the 

Station at B to the Superintendent at 


" Transmitted to the proper quarter." 



"The Superintendent W to the 


" I shall be obliged if you will give orders 
that the camp in question be surrounded with 
a fence of sufficient thickness to render the vis- 
ibility at fifty yards' distance practically nil." 

" That last man," said Aurelle, " is a poly- 

The padre asked what that was. 

"A polytechnician is a man who believes 
that all beings, alive or dead, can be precisely 
defined and submitted to an algebraic calcu- 
lation. ,A polytechnician puts, on the same 
plane, victory, a tempest, and love. I knew 
one who, commanding a fortress and having 

136 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

to draw up some orders in case of aerial at- 
tack, began thus : ' The Fortress of X 
will be attacked by an aerial engine when a 
vertical line from the engine to the earth 
finds the centre of the fortification,' and so 


" Do not abuse the Polytechnic, Aurelle," 
said the doctor. " It is the most original of 
your institutions and the best. The personal 
cult of Napoleon is so well preserved that each 
year France presents two hundred Lieutenant 
Bonapartes to the astonished Government." 

" Go on translating, messiou," said the 

" D.A.D.R.T. to the Superintendent. 
" This does not concern me but a division 
that is resting. You must address your claim 
to the A.G. by the intermediary of the French 



" Superintendent : to the Base Com- 
mandant G.H.Q. 

" I have the honour to forward herewith, 
for any action you consider necessary, a 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 137 

Memorandum concerning a complaint from 
Mademoiselle Heninghem of Hondezeele." 



And so it went on: Base Commandant to 
the French Mission; French Mission to the 
Adjutant- General; A. G. to the Army; Army 
to the Corps ; Division to the Brigade ; Brigade 
to the Colonel of the Lennox Highlanders. 
And it was signed with illustrious names, 
Colonel, Chief Staff Officer for the General, 
Brigadier, Major- General; thus the modest 
scruples of Mademoiselle Heninghem of Hon- 
dezeele were clothed, in the course of a long 
journey, with purple, gold and glory. 

6 This is a tiresome business," said Colonel 
Bramble solemnly. " Parker, answer it, will 
you, like a good chap." 

The major wrote for several minutes, then 
read out: 

" This regiment having left the Camp at 
Hondezeele two months and a half ago, it is 
unfortunately impossible to take the measures 
desired in the matter. Moreover, having as- 
certained the great cost of a fence of sufficient 
height, I beg to suggest that it would be more 

138 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

advantageous to the allied Governments to re- 
place the gate-keeper at Hondezeele by a per- 
son of mature age and proved experience, to 
whom the spectacle described herewith would 
be inoffensive and even agreeable." 

" No, Parker, no," said the colonel firmly, 
" I shall not sign that. Give me a piece of 
paper. I will answer myself." 

He wrote simply: 

"Noted and returned. 

" Colonel." 

" You are a wise man, sir," said Parker. 

" I know the game," said the colonel. " I 
have played it for thirty years." 

" Once upon a time," said the doctor, " there 
were two officers who, on the same day, each 
lost something belonging to His Majesty's 
Government. The first one mislaid a coal- 
bucket; the second a motor-lorry. Now you 
must know, Aurelle, that in our army an of- 
ficer has to pay for anything which he may 
lose by negligence out of his own pocket. The 
two officers, therefore, received notices from 
the War Office advising one that he would have 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 139 

to pay three shillings, and the other that a 
thousand pounds would be stopped from his 
pay. The first one wished to defend himself; 
he had never had any coal-buckets, and tried 
to prove it. He stopped his promotion, and 
in the end had to 'pay the three bob. The sec- 
ond, who knew a thing or two, just wrote at 
the bottom of the paper, ' Noted and re- 
turned,' and sent it back to the War Office. 
There, following an old and wise rule, a clerk 
lost the correspondence and the officer never 
heard anything more of that little matter." 

' That isn't a bad story, doctor," said Major 
Parker; " but in the case of the loss of prop- 
erty belonging to the Government there is a 
much better method than yours Colonel 
Boulton's method. 

" Colonel Boulton commanded an ammuni- 
tion depot. He was responsible, among other 
things, for fifty machine-guns. One day he 
noticed that there were only forty-nine in the 
depot. All the inquiries, and punishment of 
the sentries, failed to restore the missing 

" Colonel Boulton was an old fox and had 
never acknowledged himself in the wrong. 
He simply mentioned in his monthly return 

140 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

that the tripod of a machine-gun had been 
broken. They sent him a tripod to replace 
the other without any comment. 

" A month later, on some pretext or other, 
he reported the sighting apparatus of a ma- 
chine-gun as out of order ; the following month 
he asked for three screw-nuts; then a recoil 
plate, and bit by bit in two years he entirely 
destroyed his machine-gun. And correspond- 
ingly, bit by bit, the Army Ordnance Depart- 
ment reconstructed it for him without attach- 
ing any importance to the requisitions for the 
separate pieces. 

' Then Colonel Boulton, satisfied at last, in- 
spected his machine-guns, and found fifty-one. 

" While he had been patiently reconstruct- 
ing the lost gun, some damned idiot had found 
it in a corner. And Boulton had to spend two 
years of clever manipulation of his books to 
account for the new gun which had been 
evolved out of nothing." 

" Messiou," said the colonel, " do you re- 
member the gate-keeper at Hondezeele? I 
should not have thought it of her." 

" No more should I," said Aurelle. " She 
was very pretty." 

" Messiou! " said the padre. 



said the padre, "give me 

J a cigar." 

"Are you aware, padre, that my 
cigars were rolled on the bare thighs of the 
young girls of Havana? " 

" O'Grady," said the colonel severely, " I 
consider that remark out of place." 

" Give me one all the same," said the padre. 
" I must smoke a cigar to help me find a text 
for my sermon. The quartermaster made me 
promise to go and see the motor-drivers who 
are at the back, and I don't know what to talk 
to them about." 

" Look here, padre, I will give you an ap- 
propriate text ; lend me your Bible a moment. 
Ah, here it is. Listen ! ' But David said, 
Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that 
which the Lord hath given us ... but as his 
part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall 
his part be that tarrieth by the stuff; they shall 
part alike.' ' 


142 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

"Admirable," said the padre, "admirable! 
But tell me, O'Grady, how is it that an old 
sinner like you knows the Holy Scriptures so 

" I studied the Book of Samuel a good deal 
from an asylum doctor's point of view," said 
the doctor. " Saul's neurasthenia interested 
me. His attacks are very well described. I 
have also diagnosed the madness of Nebuchad- 
nezzar. They were two very different types. 
Saul was apathetic and Nebuchadnezzar vio- 

" I wish you would leave Nebuchadnezzar 
alone," said the colonel. 

" I am very much afraid of asylum doc- 
tors," said Major Parker. " Violent, de- 
pressed, or apathetic, we are all mad, accord- 
ing to them." 

" What do you call mad? " said the doctor. 
" I certainly can see in you, and in the colonel, 
and Aurelle, all the phenomena which I ob- 
served in the asylum." 

:< Ugh ! " said the colonel, horrified. 

" But I do, sir. Between Aurelle, who for- 
gets the war by reading Tolstoi, and some of 
my old friends who thought they were Napo- 
leon or Mahomet, there is a difference in de- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 143 

gree but not in nature. Aurelle browses on 
novels from a morbid desire to live the life of 
some one else; my patients substitute for their 
miserable life that of some great personage 
whose history they have read and whose lot 
they envy. 

" Oh, I know your objections, Aurelle. 
You know, all the time you are dreaming of 
the loves of Prince Bolkonsky, that you are 
the Interpreter Aurelle, attached to the Len- 
nox Highlanders, but when Queen Elizabeth 
is scrubbing the floor in my office, she does not 
know that she is Mrs. Jones, charwoman, of 
Hammersmith. But incoherence is not the 
monopoly of madness: all the main ideas of a 
sane man are irrational erections built up, for 
better or worse, to express his deepest feel- 

' Parker," said the colonel, " can you think 
of anything to stop him? " 

" A No. 5 grenade, sir," said the major. 

But the doctor went on imperturbably : 

" One of my patients was a country gentle- 
man, who after being a model of piety for the 
first part of his life suddenly became an athe- 
ist. He gave carefully thought-out reasons 
for it, and discoursed with a good deal of eru- 

144 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

dition on questions of doctrine, but the only 
true cause of his conversion to the wrong side 
was because his wife ran away with the clergy- 
man of his village. OJi, I beg your pardon, 
padre, you don't mind, do you? " 

" I ? I have not been listening to you for 
ages," said the padre, who was dealing out 

"It is just the same thing," continued the 
doctor, turning to the docile Aurelle, "with 
a man who is too refined for the class in which 
chance has placed him. At first he is simply 
jealous and unhappy. Influenced by these 
feelings, he becomes violently critical of society 
in order to account for his hate and disap- 

" Nietzsche was a genius because he de- 
lighted in persecution. Karl Marx was a dan- 
gerous maniac. It is only when the feelings 
of discontent which he tries to explain coincide 
with those of a whole class, or a whole nation, 
that the impassioned theorist becomes a 
prophet, or a hero; while, if he confines him- 
self to explaining that he would rather have 
been born an Emperor, they shut him up." 

" Moral," said the major, " shut up all the- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 145 

" And the doctor," said the colonel. 

" No, not all," said the doctor. " We treat 
the subject just as the ancients did. All prim- 
itive people thought that a lunatic was pos- 
sessed by a spirit. When his incoherent words 
more or less accord with the moral prejudices 
of the time, the spirit is a good one, and the 
man is a saint. In the opposite case, the spirit 
is evil and the man must be suppressed. It 
is just according to the time and place and 
the doctors, whether a prophetess would be 
worshipped as a priestess or ducked as a witch. 
Innumerable violent lunatics have escaped the 
cells, thanks to the War, and their very vio- 
lence has made heroes of them. And in every 
Parliament there are at least five or six undis- 
puted idiots who got elected for their mad- 
ness, through the admiration of their constit- 

" Say five or six hundred," said Major Par- 
ker, " and it will be the first sensible thing you 
have said to-night." 

' That's because my madness agrees with 
yours on that subject," said the doctor. 

:c Doctor," said the colonel, "you under- 
stand treatment by suggestion, don't you? I 
wish you would calm down your hospital ser- 

146 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

geant a bit. He is so nervous that he begins 
to tremble and becomes perfectly speechless if 
I speak to him. I really believe I terrify him. 
See what you can do, like a good fellow." 

Next morning, Dr. O'Grady sent for Ser- 
geant Freshwater to his tent and talked kindly 
to him. 

Freshwater, a lean Albino with heavy, stu- 
pid eyes, owned that he lost his head whenever 
the colonel came near him. 

"Well, my friend," said the doctor, "we 
will cure you of that in five minutes. Sit 
down there." 

He made some passes to create an atmos- 
phere favourable to suggestion, then began: 

' You are not afraid of the colonel, you 
know he is a man just like you and me you 
rather like talking to him. Look closely at 
his face when he speaks to you. His mous- 
tache is always cut a little too short on the left 

The doctor went on like this for a quarter 
of an hour describing the rugged features and 
funny ways of the colonel, then sent away the 
sergeant, telling him that he was cured, and 
not to forget it the first time he met his com- 
manding officer. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 147 

A few hours later, Colonel Bramble, going 
out for his lunch, met the hospital sergeant on 
one of the duck-boards used for going through 
the camp. Freshwater stepped on one side, 
saluted, and began to laugh silently. 

"Whatever is the matter, sergeant?" said 
the astonished colonel. 

" Oh, sir," replied Freshwater in fits of 
laughter, " I cannot help laughing when I look 
at you, you have such a funny face ! " 

The colonel, in a few well-chosen words, de- 
stroyed the doctor's learned suggestions for 
ever; then, establishing himself in front of the 
tinned lobster, he complimented O'Grady on 
his miraculous cure. 

" I have never seen," said the padre, " any 
creatures so stupid, so wicked, so rotten, or so 
dense as English doctors." 

" Medicine is a very old joke," said Major 
Parker, " but it still goes on. Now, doctor, 
tell the truth for once: what do you know more 
than we do about illnesses and their reme- 

" That's right," said the padre, " attack his 
religion; he often attacks mine." 

* When I was in India," said the colonel, 
" an old army doctor gave me for every mal- 

148 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ady the remedy which just suited me. For 
palpitations of the heart, a large glass of 
brandy; for insomnia, three of four glasses of 
port after dinner; for stomachic disorders, a 
bottle of dry champagne at each meal. And, 
as long as one was feeling well, whisky and 

"Excellent, sir," said Aurelle. "Before 
the War I drank nothing but water and I was 
always ill; since I have been with you I have 
adopted whisky and I feel much better." 

" Yes, you look it," said the colonel. " I 
had a friend, Major Fetherstonhaugh, who 
began to have fits of dizziness when he was 
about forty; he went to see a doctor who 
thought it was the whisky and advised him to 
drink milk for a time; well, in ten days he 
was dead." 

" And a good thing too," said the padre. 

" But I expect " began the doctor. 

"Happy are those who expect nothing," 
said the padre, " for they shall not be dis- 

'What, you too, padre!" said the doctor. 
' Take care ; if you ruin doctors by your ma- 
levolent remarks, I shall found a society for 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 149 

the exportation to the Colonies of mechanical 
idols and ovens for cooking missionaries." 

e That is an excellent idea," said the padre. 
" I must see about it." 


THE brigade, kept in reserve for the divi- 
sion, was ordered to go and camp at 
H . As a dentist measures the ex- 
tent of a cavity at a glance, the men of the 
Lennox, expert in bombardments, cast a pro- 
fessional eye over the village. Round the 
chateau and the church it was done for: houses 
in ruins, pavements torn up, trees smashed. 
The weaving factory had been badly damaged. 
The rest was not so unhealthy, a little knocked 
about, perhaps, but habitable. 

The house where Colonel Bramble had 
established his Mess had already been hit by 
a shell. It had burst in the garden, breaking 
the window-panes and marking the walls. 
Madame, a dear little old lady, made light 
of these blemishes, which had depreciated her 
house in value. 

" Oh, just a shell, monsieur Vofficier! " she 
said. " Quite a small shell; I put the base of 
it there on my mantelpiece. It's nothing, as 


The Silence of Colonel Bramble 151 

you can see. True, they make a mess of 
everything, but I am not afraid of them! " 

The colonel asked her how many windows 
had been broken. 

" I don't like this house," said the padre, 
as they sat down to dinner. 

6 The life of a soldier," replied the colonel, 
" is one of great hardship, not infrequently 
mingled with moments of real danger." 

" Be not dismayed, padre," said the doctor. 
" Shells fall like drops of water: if it rains 
much the whole pavement gets wet." 

c The Lennox Mess has always been lucky," 
said Major Parker. 

" Luck is nothing," said the doctor. 

" One can see you are not a gambler," re- 
marked Aurelle. 

" One can see that you are not a mathema- 
tician," said the doctor. 

The padre expostulated: 

"What? Luck nothing? How about lit- 
tle Taylor, killed by a shell in Poperinghe Sta- 
tion at the very moment that he was arriving 
at the front for the first time! You don't 
call that bad luck?" 

" Not more than if an old habitue like me 
was wiped out by a whizz-bang, padre. You 

152 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

are astonished at Taylor being killed the first 
minute, just as you would be surprised if, in 
a lottery of a million tickets, Number One 
should win, although that number had ob- 
viously as much chance as, say, 327,645. Some 
one must be the last man killed in this war, 
but you will see that his family will not think 
it ordinary." 

' You are a fanatic, O'Grady," said Parker, 
" you must have an explanation for every- 
thing; there are more things in heaven and 
earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy. 
I believe, myself, in good luck and bad luck 
because I have noticed it : I believe in pre- 
sentiments because I have had them, and 
events have confirmed them. When I was 
being sent home, after the Transvaal War, I 
got an order to embark on a certain ship. 
Well, two days before it started I suddenly 
had a presentiment that I must avoid sailing 
in that ship at all costs. I went sick and 
waited a fortnight longer. The transport I 
missed was completely lost and no one ever 
knew how. Then again, why are you so cer- 
tain, doctor, that aspirin will cure your head- 
ache? Because aspirin has cured it before. 
Where's the difference? " 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 153 

" The major is right," said Aurelle. " To 
say that you do not believe in a man's bad 
luck because you cannot find it at his autopsy, 
is like saying that the tuner has taken the 
piano to pieces, and therefore Mozart had no 

The quartermaster, who was dining with 
them that evening, threw his weight into dis- 
cussion : 

" There are things that cannot be explained, 
doctor. For instance, I hit you in the face: 
you shut your eye why? " 

There was an astounded silence. 

" Another instance," remarked the padre at 
last. " Why is it that if there is a pause in 
the conversation, it is always twenty minutes 
to, or twenty minutes past, the hour? " 

" But that's not true," said the doctor. 

" It was true this time, anyhow," said 
Aurelle, looking at his watch. 

' It may be once or twice," said the doctor 
irritably, " but it cannot always happen." 

" All right, doctor, all right," said the padre. 
" You notice it for several days and I think 
you will change your mind." 

The colonel said: 

" My men tell me that if a shell falls on a 

154 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

dug-out where there are gunners and infantry, 
the latter are killed and the gunners are 
spared. Why?" 

" But it is not true, sir." 

" And why must one never light three ciga- 
rettes with the same match? " 

" But you may, sir, it does not matter a bit." 

"Ah, there I disagree with you, doctor," 
said the colonel. " I am not superstitious, but 
I would not do that fdr anything in the world." 

"Why do people dressed in green always 
lose at Monte Carlo? " said Aurelle. 

" But it is not true! " roared the doctor, ex- 

" It is easy to argue like you," said Parker. 
"Everything you do not agree with is not 

" There are," said the padre, " no creatures 
so wicked and so dense as English doctors." 

" Messiou," said the colonel, " are the gun- 
ners equally lucky in the French Army? " 

" I have often remarked it," said Aurelle, 
who liked Colonel Bramble very much. 

The colonel therefore triumphed, and tried 
to put an end to the discussion, which bored 

" I am so very sorry," he said, " I cannot 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 155 

give you the gramophone to-night. I have no 
more needles." 

' That is a pity," said the padre. 

The window-panes shook; a big gun went 
off close to the house. Aurelle went to the 
window and saw behind a farm, silhouetted in 
black against the orange twilight of the sky, 
a yellowish smoke, slowly dispersing. 

' There's the old man beginning to strafe 
again," said the padre. " I don't like this 

' You will have to put up with it, padre ; the 
Staff captain won't give us another; he's a 
boy who knows his own mind." 

6 Yes," said the colonel, " he is a very nice 
boy too; he is one of Lord Bamford's sons." 

" His father, the old Lord, was a fine rider," 
said Parker. 

:c His sister," replied the colonel, " married 
a cousin of Graham, who was a major in our 
first battalion at the beginning of the War, 
and is now a brigadier-general." 

Aurelle, foreseeing that such an interesting 
subject, so rich in the possibility of unexpected 
developments, would occupy the entire eve- 
ning, tried to scribble some verses, still medi- 
tating on luck and chance. 

156 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Pascal, thou said'st if Cleopatra's nose 

Had shorter been, we were not where we are . . . 

A new and formidable detonation put a 
subtle rhyme out of his head; discouraged, he 
tried another: 

I trust you will not look askance 

For once I deal in platitude; 
To-night, to laws of luck and chance 

The Mess defines its attitude. 

Another shell fell so close that the colonel 
got up suddenly. 

" They are beginning to bombard the cha- 
teau again," he said. " I am going to see 
where that one fell." 

Major Parker and the doctor followed him 
into the street, but Aurelle, who was again 
rhyming, stayed with the padre, who had just 
begun the same patience for the fourteenth 
time that evening. The three officers had gone 
about a hundred yards when another explosion 
took place behind them. 

' That one was not far from the Mess," said 
the doctor. " I, am going to tell Madame to 
go down into the cellar." 

He retraced his steps and found a new shell- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 157 

hole in front of the house. The house seemed 
all right ; through the broken window the doc- 
tor saw the padre and called out to him: 

" A near thing that time, padre. Are you 
all right? Where is Aurelle?" 

But the padre did not move: with his head 
leaning on his arms crossed over the scattered 
cards, he appeared to be gazing vaguely at the 
doctor, who entered at a bound and touched 
the padre on the shoulder. 

He was dead. A piece of shell had entered 
his temple, which was bleeding slowly. Au- 
relle had fallen on the floor. He was uncon- 
scious and covered with blood, but the doctor, 
bending over him, found that he still breathed. 
As he was unfastening his tunic and shirt, the 
colonel and Parker arrived with their meas- 
ured tread and stopped abruptly at the door. 
6 The padre has been killed, sir," said the 
doctor simply. " Aurelle is hit, too, but I 
don't think it is serious. No, it's his shoulder 
nothing much." 

The colonel groaned sympathetically. 

Parker helped O'Grady to lay the French- 
man on a table ; a crumpled piece of paper at- 
tracted the colonel's attention ; he picked it up 
and read with difficultv: 

158 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

Why must you ever close my eyes 
Before you kiss my lips? 

" What is it all about? " he said. 

" It belongs to Aurelle," said the doctor. 

The colonel carefully folded the little sheet 
of paper and slid it respectfully into the young 
Frenchman's pocket. Then, after the doctor 
had finished dressing the wound and had sent 
for an ambulance, they laid the padre on 
Madame's humble bed. They all took their 
hats off and stood silent for some time con- 
templating the strangely softened features of 
the childlike old man. 

The doctor looked at his watch; it was 
twenty minutes past nine. 


AURELLE, on leaving hospital, was at- 
tached, while convalescent, to the Eng- 
lish colonel, Musgrave, who commanded 
a supply depot at Estrees, a little village well 
behind the line. He missed the evenings with 
the Lennox Mess, but buying fodder and wood 
took him some way out into the pretty undu- 
lating country with its clear streams, and he 
loved Estrees, hiding its innumerable belfries 
among the flowery hills. 

It was a very antique city, and in its youth, 
in the time of the seigneurs of Estrees, had 
played an important part in the affairs of 
France. For several hundred years she had 
defended her ramparts against the troops of 
the Kings of England, and from her walls she 
could see those same soldiers to-day camped 
about her, this time as familiar and courteous 
guests. Her tenacious burghers had repulsed 
both Leaguers and Spaniards with equal suc- 
cess. She now slept in smiling old age, hav- 

160 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ing seen too many things to be surprised any 
more, while still retaining from the times of 
her glory her casket of beautiful mansions, 
built among courts and gardens with the noble 
simplicity of line dating from the best periods. 

Colonel Musgrave and his officers inhabited 
the large and handsome house of the Dutch 
merchant, Van Mopez, whom Colbert had 
established at Estrees to introduce the art of 
weaving and dyeing cloth. Aurelle liked to 
go and sit in the garden and read a History 
of Estrees written by Monsieur Jean Valines, 
correspondence member of the Amiens Acad- 
emy, and author of " Nouvelles observations 
sur les miracles de la chapelle d'Estrees." 

This excellent work contained accounts of 
the great rejoicings and high festivals with 
which Estrees the Faithful had received the 
Kings, when they came to kneel and worship 
at the feet of the miraculous image in the 
Chapel of St. Ferreol. 

The municipal worthies, between the royal 
visits, prudently and carefully preserved the 
white and blue draperies embroidered with 
fleurs-de-lis, and the decorations of painted 

The Revolution had rather upset these do- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 161 

mestic arrangements; the fleurs-de-lis had to 
be removed and a red fringe sewn along the 
blue and white draperies, so that the square 
of Saint-Ferreol could be decorated at a small 
cost for the fete of the Supreme Being. 
Aurelle loved the description: 

" The cortege, preceded by music and 
drums, consisted first of a half-company of the 
National Guard carrying a banner on which 
was inscribed: 'Up with the People, down 
with Tyrants.' 

" Then carne the mothers of families carry- 
ing their infants in their arms ; children of both 
sexes clothed in the most beautiful ornaments 
of their age innocence and candour; young 
girls adorned with their charms and virtues; 
and the members of that Society so dreaded 
by traitors, in which were united the defenders 
of the truth, the upholders of public opinion, 
and the indefatigable guardians of the people. 
' The whole cortege gathered at the foot of 
a mound erected in the square of Saint- 
Ferreol. There, the people of Estrees swore 
fidelity to the laws of nature and humanity, 
and subsequently a group of figures represent- 
ing Despotism and Imposture were consumed 
by flames ; Wisdom arose out of the ashes and 

162 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

on his shield was written: ' I guard the 
Republic.' " 

Aurelle turned over some pages, very few, 
for, as Monsieur Jean Valines said, the happy 
sterility of the archives of Estrees during the 
Revolution recorded no other facts worthy of 
notice than two fetes, a fire, and a flood. 
Next came the visit of the First Consul. He 
came to Estrees accompanied by his wife and 
several general officers, and was received by 
the authorities under a triumphal arch, erected 
at the Saint-Ferreol Gate, adorned with this 
inscription: "The Grateful Inhabitants of 
this City swear Allegiance and Fidelity to the 
Conqueror of Marengo." 

The Mayor presented the keys of the town 
on a silver dish covered with bay leaves. " I 
take them, citoyen maire, and I return them 
to you," replied Bonaparte. 

" The National Guard lined the route and 
cries of c Long live Bonaparte! Long live the 
First Consul!' were repeated enthusiastically 
a thousand times. The First Consul visited 
the Van Mopez factory and distributed a day's 
pay among the workmen. The day ended 
with illuminations and a brilliant ball. 

" A short time after his marriage with 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 163 

Marie-Louise, Napoleon came back, accom- 
panied by the Empress. The square of Saint- 
Ferreol was a magnificent spectacle, decorated 
with red and white draperies and garlands of 
green leaves. A triumphal arch had been 
erected with the inscription: f Augusto Napo- 
leoni Augustoeque Mariae Ludovicae Strata- 
ville semper fidelis.* J 

A few more pages further on and it was 
March, 1814; for six days no couriers got 
through to Estrees from Paris, and then she 
heard of the fall of the Emperor. 

" At three o'clock in the afternoon, the mag- 
istrates, assembled in the Town Hall, sum- 
moned the inhabitants with the ringing of 
bells. The Mayor appeared on the balcony 
of the large hall and proclaimed the allegiance 
of the town to the restored Bourbons. The 
spectators received this speech with oft- 
repeated cries of * Long live the King! ' ' Long 
live Louis XVIII ! ' and all put on the white 

" The news soon came that Louis XVIII 
had landed at Calais and that he would pass 
through Estrees. A guard of honour was 
formed and a triumphal arch was erected at 
the Saint-Ferreol gate. It bore this inscrip- 

164 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

tion: ' Regibus usque suis urbs Stratavilla 

" The clergy from every parish approached 
to compliment the King, and the Mayor pre- 
sented the keys of the town on a silver dish 
adorned with fleurs-de-lis. The King replied, 
* Monsieur le maire, I take the flowers, and 
give you back the keys.' Then the sailors and 
footmen unharnessed the horses from the car- 
riage, and drew him themselves into the town. 
The excitement of the crowd was impossible 
to describe; every house was decorated with 
blue and white draperies and green garlands, 
mottoes and white flags, covered with fleurs- 

" The King was present at a Te Deum sung 
in Saint-Ferreol, and repaired, still drawn by 
sailors, to the Abbey of Saint-Pierre, where 
he was to lodge the night." 

The evening drew slowly in; the quaint, 
thick lettering of the old book was becoming 
indistinct, but Aurelle wanted to finish the 
melancholy history of these inconstant people. 
Skipping the triumphal entry of Charles X, 
he came to the July insurrection. 

" On the 29th of July, 1830, there were no 
newspapers; but letters and a few travellers 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 165 

arriving from Paris announced that the tri- 
colour flag had been hoisted on the towers of 
Notre-Dame. A few days later they learnt 
that the fighting had stopped, and that the 
heroic population of the capital remained in 
possession of all their outposts. 

:c Louis-Philippe, accompanied by the 
Dukes of Orleans and Nemours, soon after 
passed Estrees on his way to Lille. He was 
received under a triumphal arch by the Mayor 
and Corporation. Kvery house was hung with 
draperies in the three colours. An immense 
crowd filled the air with their acclamations. 
The King arrived at the square of Saint- 
Ferreol, where the National Guard and sev- 
eral companies of douaniers awaited him. 

' The various corps of the urban guards in 
their best clothes ; the strangeness of the rural 
guards, with a large number of Napoleon's 
old soldiers in their ranks with their original 
uniforms; the intrepid seamen of Cayeux 
carrying in triumph their fishing prizes, ten 
old tricolour banners; the sailors, with their 
carbines, bandoliers and cutlasses in their 
hands, all made the gayest of spectacles, and 
the picturesque fete delighted the King and 
the officers of his staff." 

166 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

There Jean Valines' book concluded, but 
Aurelle, while watching the garden fading 
slowly in the twilight, amused himself by 
imagining what followed. A visit from La- 
martine, no doubt; then one from Napoleon 
III, the triumphal arches and inscriptions, and 
quite lately, perhaps, Carnot or Fallieres re- 
ceiving from the mayor, in the square of 
Saint-Ferreol, the assurance of the unalter- 
able devotion of the faithful people of Estrees 
to the Republic. Then in the future: un- 
known governors, the decorations, perhaps red, 
perhaps blue, until the day when some blind 
god would come and crush with his heel this 
venerable human ant-hill. 

"And each time," he mused, "the enthu- 
siasm is sincere and the vows loyal, and these 
honest tradesmen rejoice to see passing 
through their ancient portals the new rulers, 
in the choice of whom they have had no part. 

" Happy province ! You quietly accept the 
Empires which Paris brings forth with pain, 
and the downfall of a government means no 
more to you than changing the words of a 
speech or the flowers on a silver dish. If Dr. 
O'Grady were here he would quote Ecclesi- 
astes to me," 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 167 

He tried to remember it: 

" What profit hath a man of all his labour 
which he taketh under the sun? 

" One generation passeth away, and another 
generation cometh; but the earth abideth for 

" The thing that hath been, it is that which 
shall be; and that which is done is that which 
shall be done ; and there is no new thing under 
the sun." 

" Aurelle," said Colonel Musgrave, who had 
quietly approached, " if you want to see the 
bombardment after dinner, go up to the top 
of the hill. The sky is all lit up. We attack 
to-morrow morning." 

And a distant muffled thundering floated on 
the calm evening air. A melancholy and an- 
cient peal of bells rang out from the Spanish 
belfry in the market-place. The first stars 
twinkled above the two ironical towers of the 
church of Saint-Ferreol, and the proud old 
town fell asleep to the familiar sound of battle. 


IN the soft evening air the garden drowses ; 
" J'ai du bon tabac " thinly sounds afar ; 
The bells are chiming slow, and, farther, rouses 
The distant, instant, deep-felt voice of war. 

One star stands out upon the darkling sky ; 
Against the west the tree-tops draw, outlined, 
A woodcut, Japanese, the moon behind; 
A voice, singing; dogs bark; the day is by. 

Life seems so sweet, so calm the valley's mood, 

That, did not bitter memories undeceive, 

On such a night almost could one believe 

This false world was of God that God was good. 

But even now, where the faint hills decline, 
Under this very sky, now calm as when 
Its peace was real past that near confine, 
The gates of hell yawn wide for living men. 



Musgrave was drinking his 
\A coffee in the handsome salon of the mer- 
chant, Van Mopez; he opened a pink 
official telegram and read: 

" Director of Commissariat to Colonel Mus- 
grave. Marseilles Indian Depot overcrowded 
meet special train 1000 goats with native 
goatherds find suitable quarters and organize 
temporary farm." 

" Damn the goats! " he said. 

His job being to feed Australians, he 
thought it hard that he had to bear in addition 
the consequences of the religious laws of the 
Hindoos. But nothing troubled Colonel 
Musgrave long; he sent for his interpreter. 

" Aurelle," he said, " I am expecting a thou- 
sand goats this evening ; you will take my mo- 
tor and scour the country. I must have a suit- 
able piece of ground in five hours and a small 
building for the shepherds. If the owner re- 


170 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

fuses to let you hire them, you will comman- 
deer them. Have a cigar? Good-bye." 

Having thus disposed of this first anxiety, 
he turned to his adjutant. 

" We now want an O. C. Goats! " he said. 
" It will be an excellent reason for getting 
rid of Captain Cassell, who arrived yesterday. 
Captain! I asked him what he did in peace- 
time musical critic of the Morning Leader! " 

So that is Kow Captain Cassell, musical 
critic, was promoted goatherd-in-chief. Au- 
relle found a farmer's wife whose husband had 
been called up, and he persuaded her, at the 
cost of much eloquence, that the presence of 
a thousand goats in her orchards would be the 
beginning of all sorts of prosperity. He went 
in the evening to the station with Cassell to 
fetch the goats, and they both passed through 
the town at the head of the picturesque flock, 
herded by ancient Indians, who looked exactly 
like the shepherds in the Bible. 

Colonel Musgrave ordered Cassell to send 
him a hundred goats per day for the front. 
After the fourth day Cassell sent over a short 
note by one of the children from the farm, 
announcing, as if it were quite a natural thing, 
that his flock would be exhausted the next day 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 171 

and asking for another contingent of goats. 

On opening this extraordinary missive, the 
colonel was so choked with rage that he forgot 
to proclaim, according to custom, that Cassell 
was a damned fool. The numbers were too 
simple for an error to be possible. Cassell 
had received one thousand goats; he had sent 
off four hundred, he ought to have six hun- 
dred left. 

The colonel ordered his car and commanded 
Aurelle to take him to the farm. A pretty, 
deeply cut road led them there. The build- 
ings were in the rustic, solid style of the end 
of the eighteenth century. 

" It is a charming spot," said the interpre- 
ter, proud of his find. 

"Where is that damned fellow Cassell?" 
said the colonel. 

They found him in the kitchen having a 
French lesson from the farmer's daughter. 
He got up with the easy grace of a rural gen- 
tleman whom friends from town had surprised 
in his hermitage. 

" Hullo, colonel," he said, " I am very glad 
to see you." 

The colonel went straight to the point: 

"What's this damned letter that you sent 

IJ2 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

me this morning? You received a thousand 
goats; you sent me four hundred of them. 
Show me the others." 

The ground behind the farm sloped gently 
down to a wooded valley; it was planted with 
apple-trees. Near a stable, sitting in the mud, 
the Hindoo shepherds tasted prematurely the 
joys of Nirvana. 

A horrible smell arose from the valley, and, 
coming nearer, the colonel saw about a hun- 
dred swollen and rotting carcases of goats 
scattered about the enclosure. A few thin 
kids dismally gnawed the bark of the apple- 
trees. In the distance, among the copses 
which covered the other side of the valley, one 
could see goats which had escaped browsing 
on the young trees. At this lamentable sight, 
Aurelle pitied the unfortunate Cassell. 

The colonel maintained a hostile and dan- 
gerous silence. 

" Isn't it beautiful, colonel," said the musi- 
cal critic with soft and stilted speech, " to see 

all those little white spots among the green? " 

" Could not one," suggested Aurelle on the 
return journey, " ask the advice of a compe- 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 173 

tent man? Perhaps goats cannot stand sleep- 
ing out of doors in this damp climate, and per- 
haps also they are not being fed properly." 

The colonel frowned. 

" In the South African war," he said after 
a silence, " we used a large number of oxen 
for our transport. One day these damned 
oxen started dying by hundreds, and no one 
knew why. Great excitement at headquarters. 
Some general found an expert, who, after bor- 
ing the whole army with his questions, ended 
by declaring that the oxen were cold. He had 
noticed the same sickness in the north of India. 
There they protected the beasts by making 
them wear special clothing. Any normal in- 
dividual with common sense could see that the 
oxen were simply overworked. But the re- 
port followed its course, and arrived at gen- 
eral headquarters, and from there they wired 
to India for a few thousand rugs for cattle. 

"So far all went well, the oxen died as fast 
as ever, the well-paid expert had a damned 
good time up to the arrival of the rugs. It 
is very easy to put clothing on an Indian cow 
who waits patiently with lowered head. But 
an African bullock you try, and see what it's 

174 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

like. After several trials, our drivers refused 
to do it. They sent for the expert and said 
to him, ' You asked for rugs for the beasts : 
here they are. Show us how to put them on.' 
He was damned lucky to get out of hospital 
in six months." 

That same evening another pink telegram 
arrived from the Director of Commissariat: 

" Goats arrive at the front half dead pray 
take steps that these animals may have some 
wish to live." 

Colonel Musgrave then decided to telegraph 
to Marseilles and ask for an expert on goats. 

The expert arrived two days later, a fat 
farmer from the South, sergeant of Territo- 
rials. With the help of Aurelle, he had a long 
conversation with the colonel. 

" There is one thing," he said, " that goats 
cannot get on without, and that is heat. You 
must make very low wooden sheds for them; 
without any openings; let them stew in their 
own juice, and they will be happy! " 

He remarked to the interpreter when the 
colonel had gone, " Didn't I tell them a good 
tale about their goats, he? In the South they 
live out in the open and are as well as you or 
I. But let's talk seriously. Couldn't you get 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 175 

your English to manage an extension of leave 
for me, to look after their beasts, he? " 

They had begun to build the huts described 
by the man from the South, when the Indian 
Corps wrote to Colonel Musgrave that they 
had discovered a British expert whom they 
were sending him. 

The new seer was an artillery officer, but 
goats filled his life. Aurelle, who looked after 
him a good deal, found out that he regarded 
everything in nature from the point of view 
of a goat. A Gothic cathedral, according to 
him, was a poor shelter for goats; not enough 
air, but that could be remedied by breaking the 

His first advice was to mix molasses with 
the fodder which was given to the animals. 
It was supposed to fatten them and cure them 
of that distinguished melancholy which the 
Indian troops complained of. Large bowls of 
molasses were therefore distributed to the 
Hindoo shepherds. The goats remained thin 
and sad, but the shepherds grew fat. These 
results surprised the expert. 

Then he was shown the plans of the huts. 
He was astounded. 

" If there is one thing in the world that 

1 76 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

goats cannot do without," he said, "it is air. 
They must have very lofty stables with large 

Colonel Musgrave asked him no more. He 
thanked him with extreme politeness, then sent 
for Aurelle. 

"Now listen to me," he said: "you know 
Lieutenant Honeysuckle, the goat expert? 
Well, I never wish to see him again. I order 
you to go and find a new farm with him. I 
forbid you to find it. If you can manage to 
drown him, to run over him with my car, or 
to get him eaten by the goats, I will recom- 
mend you for the Military Cross. If he re- 
appears here before my huts are finished, I 
will have you shot. Be off! " 

A week later Lieutenant Honeysuckle 
broke his leg by falling off his horse in a farm- 
yard. The Territorial from Marseilles was 
sent back to his corps. As for the goats, one 
fine day they stopped dying, and no one ever 
found out why. 


ONE morning, Aurelle, seeing an Eng- 
lish Staff officer come into his office in 
a gold-peaked hat with a red band, was 
surprised and delighted to recognize Major 

" Hullo, sir! I am glad to see you again! 
But you never told me about that " and he 
pointed to the signs of authority. 

" Well," said the major, " I wrote and told 
you that Colonel Bramble had been made a 
general. He now commands our old brigade 
and I am his brigade major. I have just been 
down to the Base to inspect our reinforce- 
ments, and the general ordered me to pick you 
up on the way back and bring you in to lunch. 
He will send you back this evening. Your 
colonel is quite agreeable. We are camped 
for the moment next to the village where the 
padre was killed; the general thought you 
would like to see his grave." 

Two hours later they drew near the front 

178 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

and Aurelle recognized the familiar land- 
marks: the little English military village with 
a policeman holding up his hand at every cor- 
ner; the large market town, scarcely bom- 
barded, but having here and there a roof with 
its beams exposed; the road, where one occa- 
sionally met a man in a flat steel helmet loaded 
like a mule; the village, the notice boards, 
' This road is under observation," and sud- 
denly, a carefully camouflaged battery bark- 
ing out of a thicket. 

But Major Parker, who had seen these 
things every day for three years, discoursed on 
one of his favourite themes: 

" The soldier, Aurelle, is always done in by 
the tradesman and the politician. England 
will pay ten thousand a year to a lawyer or a 
banker, but when she has splendid fellows like 
me who conquer empires and keep them for 
her, she only gives them just enough to keep 
their polo ponies. And again 

" It is just the same in France " began 
Aurelle; but the car stopped suddenly oppo- 
site the church of a nightmare village, and he 

recognized H . " Poor old village, how 

it has changed!" he said. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 179 

The church, ashamed, now showed its pro- 
faned nave ; the few houses still standing were 
merely two triangles of stone sadly facing one 
another; and the high building of the weaving 
factory, hit by a shell in the third story, was 
bent over like a poplar in a storm. 

"Will you follow me?" said the major. 
" We have had to put the H.Q. of the brigade 
outside the village, which was becoming un- 
healthy. Walk twenty paces behind me; the 
sausage balloon is up and it's no good show- 
ing them the road." 

Aurelle followed for a quarter of an hour 
through the bushes, and suddenly found him- 
self face to face with General Bramble who, 
standing at the entrance to a dug-out, was 
watching a suspicious aeroplane. 

" Ah, messiou! " he said. " That's good! " 
And the whole of his rugged red face lit up 
with a ] kindly smile. 

" It will be like a lunch in the old days," 
he continued, after Aurelle had congratulated 
him. ;< I sent the Staff captain out with the 
interpreter for we have another interpreter 
now, messiou I thought you would not like 
to see him in your place. But he has not 

180 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

really replaced you, messiou ; and I telephoned 
to the Lennox to send the doctor to lunch 
with us." 

He showed them into the Mess and gave 
Major Parker a few details of what had been 

" Nothing important ; they have spoilt the 
first line a bit at E 17 A. We had a little 
strafe last night. The division wanted a pris- 
oner, so as to identify the Boche reliefs yes, 
yes, that was all right the Lennox went to 
fetch him. I have seen the man, but I haven't 
had their written report yet." 

' What, not since last night? " said Parker. 
" What else have they got to do? " 

' You see, messiou," said tjie general, " the 
good old times are over. Parker no longer 
abuses red hats. No doubt they are abusing 
him in that little wood you see down there." 

"It is true," said Parker, " that one must 
be on the Staff to realize the importance of 
work done there. The Staff is really a brain 
without which no movement of the regiment 
is possible." 

" You hear, messiou? " said the general. 
' It is no longer the same; it will never be the 
same again. The padre will not be there to 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 181 

talk to us about Scotland and to abuse bish- 
ops. And I have no longer got my gramo- 
phone, messiou. I left it to the regiment with 
all my records. The life of the soldier is one 
of great hardship, messiou, but we had a jolly 
little Mess with the Lennox, hadn't we? " 

The doctor appeared at the entrance to the 

" Come in, O'Grady, come in. Late as 
usual; there is no creature so wicked and so 
dense as you." 

The lunch was very like those of the good 
old times for there were already good old 
times in this War, which was no longer in the 
flower of its youth the orderlies handed 
boiled potatoes and mutton with mint sauce, 
and Aurelle had a friendly little discussion 
with the doctor. 

' When do you think war will be finished, 
Aurelle?" said the doctor. 

' When we win," cut in the general. 

But the doctor meant the League of Na- 
tions: he did not believe in a final war. 

' It is a fairly consistent law of humanity," 
he said, " that men spend about half their lives 
at war. A Frenchman, called Lapouge, cal- 
culated that from the year 1100 to the year 

1 82 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

1500, England had been 207 years at war, 
and 212 years from 1500 to 1900. In France 
the corresponding figures would be 192 and 
181 years." 

' That is very interesting," said the general. 

" According to that same man Lapouge, 
nineteen million men are killed in war every 
century. Their blood would fill three million 
barrels of 180 litres each, and would feed a 
fountain of blood running 700 litres an hour 
from the beginning of history." 

" Ugh! " said the general. 

"All that does not prove, doctor," said 
Aurelle, " that your fountain will go on run- 
ning. For many centuries murder has been 
an institution, and nevertheless courts of jus- 
tice have been established." 

" Murder," said the doctor, " never appears 
to have been an honoured institution among 
primitive peoples. Cain had no reason to care 
for the justice of his country, if I mistake not. 
Besides, law courts have not suppressed mur- 
derers. They punish them, which is not the 
same thing. A certain number of interna- 
tional conflicts might be settled by civil tribu- 
nals, but there will always be wars of passion." 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 183 

"Have you read * The Great Illusion'?" 
said Aurelle. 

" Yes," said the major, " it's a misleading 
book. It pretends to show that war is use- 
less, because it is not profitable. We know 
that very well, but who fights for profit? 
England did not take part ir) this war to con- 
quer, but to defend her honour. As for be- 
lieving that Democracies would be pacific, 
that's nonsense. A nation worthy of the name 
is even more susceptible than a monarch. The 
Royal Era was the age of gold, preceding the 
Iron Age of the people." 

c There's an argument just like the old 
days," said the general. " Both are right, 
both are wrong. That's capital! Now, doc- 
tor, tell me the story about your going on 
leave and I shall be perfectly happy." 

After lunch, they all four went to see the 
padre's grave. It was in a little cemetery sur- 
rounded by weeds ; the ground broken up here 
and there by recent shell-holes. The padre 
lay between two lieutenants of twenty. Corn- 
flowers and other wild plants had spread a 
living mantle over all three graves. 

" After the war," said General Bramble, " if 

184 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

I am still alive, I shall have a stone carved 
with ' Here lies a soldier and a sportsman.' 
That will please him." 

The other three remained silent, restraining 
their emotion with difficulty. Aurelle seemed 
to hear, in the murmuring summer air, the un- 
dying strains of " Destiny Waltz " and saw 
the padre setting out once more on horseback, 
his pockets bulging with hymn-books and ciga- 
rettes for the men. The doctor meditated: 

' Where two or three are gathered together, 
there I will be in the midst of them.' What a 
profound and true saying! And how the re- 
ligion of the dead still lives." 

" Come," said the general, " we must go, 
the Boche sausage is up in the air, and we are 
four; it is too many. They tolerate two, but 
we must not abuse their courtesy. I am going 
on up to the trenches. You, Parker, will take 
Aurelle back, and if you want to go with them, 
doctor, I will tell your colonel that I have 
given you leave for the afternoon." 

The three friends passed slowly across the 
silent plains, which only a few months before 
had been the formidable battlefield of the 
Somme. As far as the eye could see, there 
were low, undulating hillocks covered with 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 185 

thick, coarse grass, groups of mutilated tree- 
trunks marking the place of the famous wood, 
and millions of poppies made these dead fields 
glow with a warm and coppery light. A few 
tenacious rose-trees, with lovely fading roses, 
had remained alive in this wilderness, beneath 
which slept the dead. Here and there posts, 
bearing painted notices, like those on a sta- 
tion platform, recalled villages unknown yes- 
terday, but now ranking with those of Mara- 
thon or Bivoli: Contalmaison, Martinpuich, 

' I hope," said Aurelle, looking at the in- 
numerable little crosses, here grouped together 
as in cemeteries, there isolated, " that this 
ground will be consecrated to the dead who 
won it, and that this country will be kept as 
an immense rustic cemetery, where children 
may come to learn the story of heroes." 

"What an idea!" said the doctor. "No 
doubt the graves will be respected; but they 
will have good crops all round them in two 
years' time. The land is too rich to remain 
widowed; look at that superb lot of corn- 
flowers on those half -healed scars." 

And truly, a little further on, some of the 
villages seemed, like convalescents, to be tast- 

1 86 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ing the joy of life once more. Shop windows 
crowded with English goods in many-coloured 
packets brightened up the ruined houses. As 
they passed through a straggling village of 
Spanish aspect the doctor resumed: 

" Yes, this is a marvellous land. Every na- 
tion in Europe has conquered it in turn; it 
has defeated its conqueror every time." 

" Tf we go a little out of the way," said 
Parker, "we could visit the battlefield of 
Crecy; it would interest me. I hope you are 
not annoyed with us, Aurelle, for having 
beaten Philippe de Valois? Your military 
history is too glorious for you to have any 
resentment for events which took place so long 

" My oldest resentments do not last six hun- 
dred years," said Aurelle. " Crecy was an 
honourably-contested match ; we can shake 
hands over it." 

The chauffeur was told to turn to the west, 
and they arrived on the site of Crecy by the 
same lower road taken by Philippe's army. 

" The English," said Parker, " were drawn 
up on the hill facing us, their right towards 
Crecy, their left at Vadicourt, that little vil- 
lage you see down there. They were about 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 187 

thirty thousand; there were a hundred thou- 
sand French. The latter appeared about 
three o'clock in the afternoon, and immediately 
there was a violent thunderstorm." 

" I observe," said the doctor, " that the 
heavens thought it funny to water an offen- 
sive even in those days." 

Parker explained the disposition of the two 
armies, and the varying fortunes of the battle. 
Aurelle, who was not listening, admired the 
woods, the quiet villages, the yellowing grass 
of the fields, and saw in imagination swarms 
of men and horses riding up to the assault of 
this peaceful hill. 

" Finally," concluded the major, " when the 
King of France and his army had left the field 
of battle, Edward invited the principal corps 
commanders to dinner, and they all ate and 
drank with great rejoicings because of the 
good luck which had befallen them." 

' How very English, that invitation to dine 
at the King's Mess," said Aurelle. 

4 Then," continued Parker, " he ordered 
one Renaud de Ghehoben to take all the 
knights and clerks who knew heraldry " 

' The units," said the doctor, " will render to 
His Majesty's H.Q., not later than this eve- 

1 88 The Silence of Colonel Bramble 

ning, a nominal roll of all barons who have 
passed their heraldry test." 

" And commanded them to count the dead, 
and to write down the names of all the knights 
whom they could recognize." 

" The adjutant-general will compile a re- 
turn of noble persons stating who have been 
killed, including their rank," said the doctor. 

" Renaud found eleven princes, thirteen 
hundred knights and sixteen thousand foot 

Heavy black clouds were showing up 
against the brilliant sunshine: a storm was 
coming over the hill. By the valley of 
Renaud's clerks, they climbed up on to the 
summit and Parker looked for the tower from 
which Edward had watched the battle. 

" I thought," he said, " that it had been 
made into a mill, but I don't see one on the 

Aurelle, noticing a few old peasants, helped 
by children, cutting corn in the next field, 
went up to them and asked them where the 
tower was. 

"The tower? There is no tower in these 
parts," one of them said, " nor mill either." 

" Perhaps we are wrong," said the major. 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble 189 
Ask him if this is really where the battle 


'The battle?" replied the old man. 
"What battle?" 

And the people of Crecy turned back to 
their work, binding into neat sheaves the corn 
of this invincible land. 




A Mort passe; le Destin chante; 

Vite, oublie-moi. 

Tes robes noires sont charmantes ; 
Mets-les six mois. 

Garde-toi de venir en pleurs 

M'offrir des roses; 
Aux vivants reserve tes fleurs 

Et toutes choses. 

Ne me plains pas, je dormirai 

Sans barcaroles, 
Et de mon corps je nourrirai 

Des herbes folles. . . . 

Mais si, par quelque soir d'automne 

On de brouillard, 
Pour ton visage de madone 

Tu veux le fard 

De cet air de melancolie 

Que j'aimais tant, 
Alors oublie que tu m'oublies 

Pour un instant." 




Quelque part en France. 

LES soldats passent en chantant : 
" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette." * 
II pleut, il vente, il fait un temps 
A ne pas suivre, une grisette. 
Les soldats passent en chantant, 
Moi, je fais des vers pour Josette; 
Les soldats passent en chantant: 
" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette." 

Un planton va dans un instant 
M'apporter de vieilles gazettes : 
Vieux discours de vieux charlatans, 
" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette." 
Nous passons nos plus beaux printemps 
A ces royales amusettes; 
Les soldats passent en chantant: 
" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette." 

La pluie, sur les vitres battant 
Orchestre, comme une mazette, 
Quelque prelude de Tristan, 

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag." 



" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette.'* 
Demain sans doute un percutant 
M'enverra faire la causette 
Aux petits soupers de Satan. 
" Mets tes soucis dans ta musette." 
Les soldats passent en chantant. 



DANS votre salon directoire 
(Bleu lavande et jaune citron) 
De vieux fauteuils voisineront 
Dans un style contradictoire 
Avec un divan sans histoire 
(Bleu lavande et jaune citron). 

A des merveilleuses notoires 
(Bleu lavande et jaune citron) 
Des muscadins a cinq chevrons 
Diront la prochaine victoire, 
En des domains ostentatoires 
(Bleu lavande et jaune citron). 

Les murs nus comme un mur d'eglise 
(Bleu lavande et jaune citron) 
Quelque temps encore attendront 
Qu'un premier consul brutalise 
Leur calme et notre Directoire 
De son visage peremptoire 
(OEil bleu lavande et teint citron). 



PUISQUE le mauvais temps vous condamne & 
la chambre, 
Puisque vous meprisez desormais les romans, 
Puisque pour mon bonheur vous n'avez pas d'amant, 
Et puisque ce mois d'aout s'obstine impunement 
A jouer les decembre. 

Je griffonne pour vous ces vers sans queue ni tete, 
Sans rime, ou peu s'en faut, en tout cas sans raison, 
Que j'intitulerai dans mes ceuvres completes: 
" Discours pour une amie qui garde la maison 
Par un jour de tempete." 

Je ne sais la-dessus si nous sentons de meme, 
Mais quand je suis ainsi reveur et paresseux, 
Quand il pleut dans mon coeur comme il pleut dans - 




MURE et charmante epiciere 
Au corsage gonfle, 
Et vous, jolie garde-barriere, 
Aux bras nus et muscles, 

Institutrice aux yeux mi-clos, 

Aux robes citadines, 
Vous qui possediez un piano 

Et de longues mains fines, 

Boulangere a qui les ecus 

Ne coutaient certes guere, 

Car vous vous mettiez au-dessus 
Des prejuges vulgaires, 

Ah! que vos charmes villageois 
Nous furent done utiles 

Pour vaincre le cafard sournois 
De ces journees hostilesl 

Accoudes a votre comptoir 

Et parlant pour nous-memes, 

Nous vous disions nos longs espoirs 
Et nos vastes problemes. 



Vous n'avez pas souvent compris, 
Mais soyez bien tranquilles, 

Nos belles amies de Paris 
Ne sont pas plus habiles. 

L'homme croit toujours emouvoir 
La femme qu'il desire: 

Elle n'est pour lui qu'un miroir 
Dans lequel il s'admire, 

Et quand Margot, Pair resigne, 

Subit nos hypotheses, 
Elle vaut bien la Sevigne, 

Pourvu qu'elle se taise. 



DEMAIN, depart <k la brigade: 
La cornemuse et le tambour 
Donneront la derniere aubade 
A ces fugitives amours. 

Les montagnards aux beaux genoux, 
Qui mimaient la danse du sable 
Avec des chants graves et doux 
Vont danser la ronde du Diable. 

La Victoire, un jour, les cherchant, 
Les trouvera trois pieds sous terre, 
Mais par ces fermes et ces champs 
Flottera leur ombre legere. 

Et dans nos villages des Flandres . 




EN cet instant, belles personnes, 
Un adolescent bien poudre 
A coup sur pres de vous fredonne 
I/a chanson que vous adorez. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

En caressant ses cheveux lisses 
Avec des gestes manieres, 
II vous fait des yeux en coulisse 
Et des regards enamoures. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

La vague cependant balance 
Notre vieux bateau delabre, 
Le vent qui siffle avec violence 
Chante notre Miserere. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

En vain, pour conjurer I'image 
D'un sort, helas! trop assure^ 
Accroches a nos bastingages, 
Nous fredonnons desesperes. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 


Pousses vers les sombres royaumes 
Par votre oubli premature, 
Le plus lamentable des psaumes 
Chante en notre coeur ulcere: 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

Quoi? Votre ame etait si petite 
Et votre amour si mesure? 
Vous avez oublie si vite 
Que ce fut notre air prefere, 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

En semblable cas, les Romaincs 
Restaient pres du foyer sacre 
Et chantaient en filant la laine 
Des hymnes aux dieux ignores. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

Ne pouvez-vous faire comme elles? 
Oh! dites que vous le voudrez 
Et qu'en des amours eternelles 
Pour nous seuls vous vous garderez. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 

Car si vous etes inconstantes 
Comme ces flots desempares, 
Craignez qu'un jour le doux andante 
Ne devienne un Dies ira. 
Fa, do, sol, re. 



Tu Pas dit, 6 Pascal, le nez de Cleopatre, 

S'il cut ete plus court . . . nous n'en serions pas la. 

Croyez pas que je moralise, 
Si je vous envoie ces bobards, 
C'est que notre mess analyse 
Ce soir la question du hasard . 

Pourquoi me fermes-tu les yeux 
Lorsque tu me baises la bouche? 



LE jardin provincial s'endort dans le soir 
tendre ; 
Un violon d'enfant joue " J'ai du bon 


Les cloches lentement tintent; Pon peut entendre 
Vibrer dans Pair lointain le bruit sourd des combats. 

Une etoile s'allume en un ciel qui grisaille; 

Un arbre aux fins rameaux sur 1'occident dessine 

Un croquis japonais que la lune termine; 

Une voix chante; un chien aboie; 1'ombre tressaille. 

La vie semble si douce en ce calme vallon 
Que si Phomme n'avait, helas ! trop de memoire, 
Par un tel soir paisible il pourrait presque croire 
Que ce monde menteur est Poeuvre d'un Dieu bon. 

Cependant, par dela ces collines flexibles 

Et sous ce meme ciel au calme decevant, 

A quelques lieues d'ici, par ce beau soir paisible 

Les portes de Penfer s'ouvrent pour des vivants. 


PQ Maurois, Andre* 

2625 The silence of Colonel 

A95S513 Bramble